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“The currents of society must not be thwarted, or dammed up; but easy channels should be formed for their undisturbed flow, and they should be made tributary to Church strength, instead of draining off its life. The happy art undoubtedly is, that of a musician who combines various, and even discordant, notes into harmony; or, to ascend higher, of the Divine Mind, which combines conflicting powers into glorious unities, by the interposition of such affinities and balances as best serve his ends.
“ Periodic convulsions, in a body, though they relieve from disturbance, abstract its energies. The residuary becomes effete, while the birth of agitation, for the moment preternaturally active, subsides into permanent torpor. When the separated portion is comparatively fractional only, it is almost as liable to wither and die, as a branch riven from its parent stem; there is the loss of just so much salutary agency to society in general, with a proportionate defalcation from the residuary Church. This is all but an unmixed evil. It is only when the seceding mass approximates to the residuary, that the chances of life and growth are increased by the breadth of counter-array and energetic competition. Character and reputation are frightfully deteriorated by the struggles of schisms -incomparably the most intense of human collisions, as they issue from the very depths of our moral nature. It is obvious that frequent internal convulsion and separation must consume much of the life and resources of any community. Their effect must be a moral as well as statistical retrogression: the results of former toil are squandered; the harvest of years strewn to the winds. Considering the terrifically Antinomian exhibitions of such seasons, and the stimulus they give to the infidel and profane, the wonder is, that religion itself in any particular form of it where this happens, survives the blow,—not that it should, for a time, languish, or its recovery be slow. Such a fact seems to de clare its divinity as a thing separable from the worst possible accidents, and that its resurrectional energies are as the reflection of that of Christ himself, from the tomb; a type, too, of its final triumph alike over the treachery of friends and the insults of foes."
We should be glad to quote further; but our limits forbid. Our readers will find Mr. Steward a thoughtful and suggestive writer, as we have said: and we are sure that, if he lives, the Church will hear more from him-and even better than the excellent book before us contains.
(2.) No history, ecclesiastical or other, abounds more in materials of attractive and even romantic interest, than the history of the Methodist Episcopal Church. It has had its heroes and its martyrs of the noblest stamp; their memorabilia are worth the world's reading. We welcome, then, with a singular and peculiar delight, every history, however partial or local, every biography, however humble, and every record, however fragmentary, that may tend to embalm and preserve the memoirs of the heroic age of our Church. Our readers will remember, as one of the pleasantest books of this class, the “ Sketches and Incidents from the Saddle-bags of a Superannuated Itinerant,”: and we now with pleasure note the appearance, from the same pen, of " Sketches from the Study of a Superannuated Itinerant.” (Boston:-C. H. Peirce & Co., 12mo., pp. 257.) The book gives sketches of Zadok Priest, Hezekiah Calvin Wooster, Enoch Mudge, and John Collins, with a beautiful memorial of the Garrettson family, their homestead on the Hudson, and its chief light and ornament, Catharine Garrettson. Several essays on Methodism, education, and other topics are interspersed among the personal sketches. The writer of these sketches wields the most versatile and graphic pen known in our Church—and it fails in none of its qualities in these pages. We trust the book will find its way into the extensive circulation it deserves.
(3.) “ Memorials of Missionary Labours in Africa and the West Indies, with Historical and Descriptive Observations, by WILLIAM MOISTER.” (New-York : Lane & ott, 1851; 12mo., pp. 348.) Mr. Moister spent two years in Africa, and ten in the West Indies and Demerara, in the service of the Wesleyan Missionary Society, and this volume contains a record of his labours and observations in both those interesting fields. Prefixed to the first part is a very satisfactory account of Western Africa and its people, conveying, in brief compass, a large amount of information with regard to a country but little known. The record here given is enough to vindicate the policy of the Church in sending her missionaries to those inhospitable and insalubrious shores. Mr. Moister landed on the coast of Africa, at St. Mary's, on the 15th of March, 1831, and immediately commenced his labours.
“The first Sabbath we spent in Africa was a day never to be forgotten. At morning-dawn the native prayer-meeting was held, and many thanks were offered to Almighty God for our safe arrival. In the forenoon I read prayers, and opened my commission by preaching from that delightful text, “This is a faithfûl saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." 1 Tim. i, 15. The people heard with marked attention, and the whole appearance of the congregation was truly pleasing. It afforded an interesting proof that the labours of my revered predecessors had not been in vain, though some of them had been called hence at an early period after their arrival. The negroes who had been brought to a knowledge of the truth, both male and female, together with their children, appeared in the house of God neatly clothed, and, in their general aspect, presented a striking contrast to their sable brethren who still remained in heathen darkness. They sang the praises of God most delightfully, and the impression made upon our minds was of a very pleasing character. Another service in the evening, conducted partly in the language of the natives, and partly in English, closed the exercises of this blessed day."
In March, 1832, Mr. Moister ascended the Gambia to M'Carthy's Island, two hundred and fifty miles from the mouth of the river, founded a school and mission, and left John Cupidon, a native convert, in charge of it. Twelve months afterwards, the missionary returned again to M'Carthy's island, and thus describes the change that had been wrought meanwhile :
“At ten o'clock, A. M., the people assembled for Divine worship, evidently anticipating something more than usual. As I entered the chapel, I could not but observe the change which had taken place in the appearance and manners of the people since I last addressed them. They presented themselves in the house of God clean and neat in their apparel; and conducted themselves with a reverence and propriety becoming the solemnity of the occasion. I preached with freedom and comfort to a deeply-attentive congregation, after which I baptized seven adults and sixteen children. The adults had been carefully instructed and prepared for this sacred ordinance, by the native teacher; and the children were the offspring of parents who had avowed their determination to give themselves to the Lord. In the afternoon I examined the Sunday school, which consisted chiefly of young men and women, and I was delighted to observe the eagerness with which they were endeavouring to make out the meaning of the words of Him who 'spake as never man spake. We held another service in the evening, which proved to be a season of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.' This holy Sabbath was, indeed, a day long to be remembered ; and had I not actually beheld it, I could scarcely have believed that such a change could take place in 80 short a space of time, through the simple teaching of a converted African, for several gave pleasing evidence that a work of grace had commenced in their hearts; and the whole congregation engaged in the singing, and other devotional exercises, with a life and energy truly pleasing."
Soon after, a missionary was sent out from England to take charge of the work at M'Carthy's Island, and it has been carried on successfully, from that day to this. Hundreds of natives have been brought under the sound of the Gospel at that station; and one of its missionaries has translated part of the Bible into the Mandingo language. The school, at the latest dates, numbered ninety scholars; and there were one hundred and fifty natives in Churchfellowship. This is but a single specimen of the fruits of recent missionary labour in Africa.
Mr. Moister's account of his residence in Demerara and the West Indies is, if possible, still more interesting. We should be glad to give some extracts from it, did our limits allow; but must content ourselves with urging our ministers to read this book and to cause its circulation among their people.
(4.) OF popular works on the subject of Geology and its relations to Scripture there is no lack. A new and valuable one is now added to the list in “ The Course of Creation, by JOHN ANDERSON, D.D.” (Cincinnati: W. H. Moore & Co., 1851 ; 12mo., pp. 384.) The work is divided into four parts of which the first treats of the geology of Scotland; the second, the geology of England; the third, that of France and Switzerland; while the fourth discusses general principles. Dr. Anderson is evidently well skilled in geology, and writes with a freedom and vivacity rivalled by no writer on the subject except Hugh Miller. The Conclusion states, with great clearness and force, the bearing of the geological evidences upon the character and attributes of God. The book is admirably got up by the Cincinnati publishers.
(5.) “ The Sabbath School and Bible Teaching, by JAMES INGLIS.” (NewYork: Lane & Scott, 12mo., pp. 224.) The aim of the author of this timely work, is, according to his preface, to supply Sunday-school teachers with a practical guide. The work is divided into two parts:- I. On Teaching: II. On the School. After disclaiming any attempt to set forth a new system of teaching, the author unfolds, with great judgment and sense, the different steps which he deems essential to successful instruction, viz :—The preparation of the lesson, its explanation, suitable illustration, apt application, and abundant revision. The subject of catechetical instruction is very fully examined. Under the head of “ The School,” the qualifications, duties, &c., of the superintendent and teachers are carefully discussed, and the details of school-management entered into at considerable length. Believing that the Sunday school is, next to the pulpit, the great instrument of the Church for the spread of religion in this and future generations, we welcome every new work likely to add to the efficiency and value of the system; and we cordially commend Mr. Inglis's book to all who are engaged or interested in the work of Sundayschool instruction.
(6.) “The Harmony of Prophecy, or Scripture Illustrations of the Apocalypse, by Rev. ALEXANDER KEITH, D.D.” (New-York: Harper & Brothers, 1851, 12mo., pp. 439.) Dr. Keith is an obscure and prolix writer-and the present work is not clearer nor more satisfactory than his “ Evidence of Prophecy.”
(7.) “ The Works of Horace; with English Notes, for the Use of Schools and Colleges, by J. L. LINCOLN, Professor of Latin in Brown University.” (NewYork: D. Appleton & Co., 1851; 12mo., pp. 575.) Orelli's second edition is adopted by Professor Lincoln as the basis of his text of Horace; and he could not have done better. The prolegomena contain a neat and carefully prepared Life of Horace; a chronological table; a statement of the lyric metres of Horace; and an Index to the metres. The text itself, which is printed in a large, bold, and beautiful type, occupies 309 pages, while the notes occupy 237; thus reversing the proportion of some modern text-books, in which the text seems only to be a scaffolding for the notes. Mr. Lincoln's plan of annotation aims to explain only real difficulties: “to give such and so much aid, only, as may at once stimulate and reward the pupil's industrious efforts; and also not to supersede or interfere with the course of direct instruction and illustration which every good teacher is accustomed to follow with his classes.” That this is the true theory on which College text-books should be prepared, we are well assured; and we thank Professor Lincoln for the admirable example of it he has offered us in this excellent edition of Horace. Were we now engaged in teaching, as of old, we should certainly make use of the book - and we cordially commend it to the notice of all instructors.
(8.) “ Nature and Blessedness of Christian Purity, by Rev. R. S. FOSTER.” (Lane & Scott, for the Author: 12mo., pp. 226.) This belongs to the class of practical and devotional books; and yet rests on a basis of sound theological inquiry. That Holiness is attainable on earth, and how it may be obtained and kept—these are its topics, and they are treated with earnestness, clearness, and vivacity, so that the book is attractive as well as substantial. The author shows the extravagances into which some modern writers on the subject have fallen; and makes the calm, sound, and rational views of Wesley, founded on the Scriptures, the foundation of his own. We are particularly pleased with his urgent exhortations to all who profess holiness to illustrate it in their conduct. The Church needs EXAMPLES of holiness more than professors of it. But we cannot dwell upon this book now: a more extended review is in preparation for a future number of our journal.
(9.) We have noticed " Lossing's Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution" several times during its issue in numbers, and have now before us the first bound volume (8vo., pp. 576; Harper & Brothers, New-York); and feel it a duty to recommend it, especially as a family book, worthy of the patronage of the whole American people. It is at once a series of pictures of our country and of its history, as the ingenious plan on which the work is prepared combines these two objects. The various localities made famous by the events of the Revolution are noticed in the order in which they were visited by the eminent artist who prepares the book, and from whose drawings, taken on each spot, the whole is profusely illustrated, " To delineate with pen and pencil what is left of the physical features of that period, and thus to rescue from oblivion, before it should be too late, the mementoes which another generation will appreciate," has been Mr. Lossing's employment for many months and the result of these genial labours is now placed in a permanent form before the American public. As for the mechanical execution of the work, it is, perhaps, taking paper, printing, illustrations, and all into the account, the very best specimen of a purely American book that we have yet
(10.) THE “ Positive Philosophy" of Auguste Comte is distinguished as well for its exceeding comprehensiveness, with regard to material phenomena, as for its poverty with regard to all others. It is, in effect, a negation of all philosophy, as such; and its final triumph would be the restriction of the efforts of the human mind to the apprehension and classification of material phenomena and their relations. That such a philosophy (or no-philosophy) is necessarily destructive and atheistical, is too obvious to require any argument. Indeed, M. Comte does not hesitate to admit this issue: in fact, he glories in it as the emancipation of humanity from the reign of superstition and of metaphysics.
This stand-point of M. Comte has unhappily prevented the English mind, to a great extent, from appreciating and employing the really sublime results to which his penetrating acuteness and severe logic have led him within the domain to which his method is strictly applicable. But the time, we think, is not far distant, in which all that is valuable in the “ Cours de Philosophie Positive” will become the common property of literature—the evil residuum being eliminated and rejected. An indication of this tendency is shown in the translation of a part of his great work, under the title of " The Philosophy of Mathematics, translated from the Philosophie Positive of Auguste Comte, by W. M. GILLESPIE, Professor in Union College.” (New-York: Harper & Brothers, 8vo., pp. 260.) This is certainly the best part of Comte's whole work: for in its execution he was aided not merely by his general acuteness of mind, but also by his special experience as a mathematician. M. Arago, indeed, gave his opinion of Comte's mathematical skill very intelligibly in the declaration, “ Chez M. Comte je ne voyais de titres mathematiques d'aucune sorte :" but there must have been a little personal pique, we judge, at the bottom of this judgment. Be that as it may, there is nowhere to be found so complete a survey of the field of mathematical science as a whole, nor so skilful an exhibition of the relations of the several parts, as in this work; and we cordially thank Professor Gillespie for laying it before us in English. It is rather to be regretted, we judge, that the portion relating to Rational Mechanics has been left out in the translation.
(11.) HENRY MAYHEW has opened a new vein in his “ London Labour and the London Poor," (New-York: Harper & Brothers,) of which we have six of the serial parts. The novelists have often enough sought for characters and “scenes” in the abodes of poverty and crime; but this is the first instance, so far as we know, in which a professed man of letters has undertaken to seek out statistics for himself—and such statistics
and make out of them a book that the public would read. He has succeeded most admirably: and his work will not only arrest the eye, but we trust also the heart of that great "public" for which it was written. We shall return to the work when the series is completed.