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• And to remove the groundless hope, that this quality of inherent corruption belonged only to the profligate and abandoned, the Divine Inspirer of the sacred writers took especial care, that they should not confine themselves to relate the sins of these alone.
• Why are the errors, the weaknesses, and even the crimes of the best men recorded with equal fidelity? Why are we told of the twice-repeated deceit of the father of the faithful? Why of the single instance of vanity in Hezekiah? Why of the too impetuous zeal of Elijah? Why of the error of the almost perfect Moses? Why of the insincerity of Jacob? Why of the far darker crimes of the otherwise holy David? Why of the departure of the wisest of men from that piety, displayed with sublimity unparalleled in the dedication of the Temple? Why seems it to have been invariably studied, to record with more minute detail the vices and errors of these eminent men, than even those of the successive impious kings of Israel, and of Judah ; while these last are generally dismissed with the brief, but melancholy sentence, that they did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord; followed only by too frequent an intimation, that they made way for a successor worse than themselves? The answer is, that the truth of our universal lapse could only be proved by transmitting the record of those vices, from which even the holiest men were not exempt.
With respect to this doctrine of innate depravity,' streaming through the whole sacred volume in the way which is asserted by the present writer, we shall only say that, in the work which was published on this subject by Dr. John Taylor of Norwich, that learned divine was not able, in the whole compass of the Old and New Testament, to discover more than five or six texts that give any direct countenance to such a doctrine; and even these, when carefully examined and critically explained, will be found to afford it no support. Yet, if we were to omit the doctrine of innate depravity, of the Atonement, and other matters of uncertain speculation, in our account of the essentials of Christianity, Mrs. More would call this generalizing religion, against which she warns her readers at p. 105.; for she says that a general religion is no religion at all. We would ask Mrs. More, if a general religion is no religion at all,' what will become of the religion of Jesus ? That religion is certainly a general religion. It is universal in its principles, and suited to the universal wants of mankind: it contemplates God as the universal Father; and it regards all mankind as his common progeny. It says that God made of one blood all the nations that dwell on the earth ; and that, in every country under heaven, “ he who worketh righteousness is accepted of him.” When Christ was asked which was the great commandment in the law, he said, “ Hear, o Israel! the Lord thy God is one Lord, and to love him with all the heart and with all the mind is the first and great commandment: and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Is not this to say, these two commandments are the substance of all true religion, and comprehend all that is essential for man as the rule of his conduct towards his father in heaven and his fellow.creatures on earth? Yet what are these two commandments but " general religion? What are they but a religion which is not exclusively confined to any particular people, country, or government; which is not compatible only with particular habits and institutions, but which, like the air that we breathe or the water that we drink, is suited to the moral wants of all mankind, in all ages, countries, and climes, whatever institutions they may cherish, or under whatever governments they may live? If this be not a general religion,' we know not what a general religion is; and yet will Mrs. Hannah More now tell us that this is no religion at all?
The Christian doctrine is more particularly distinguished by one great generalizing principle, which causes all diversities of faith, as far as they are grounds of dissension, to disappear; and which unites in the sympathies of peace men of the most discordant sentiments. What principle is this? It is CHARITY. This is the bond of perfectness; and we ask the pious author of these · Moral Sketches' whether this Charity, as it was taught by Christ, and afterward extolled by St. Paul, be not a generalizing principle ?
Does it not tend to compress every crced into its minimum of articles ? Does it not make the love of God and of man so operative in the heart, and so comprehensive in the mind, as to render us in a great measure indifferent to modes of faith? For is not Charity, when invested with all its divine attributes, as they have been described by St. Paul, more transcendant in its nature than even the most orthodox sublimities of faith? If the abstractions of Faith, Hope, and Charity could be embodied in a visible form, would not Charity cause the other two to fade in their beauty and wane in their lustre by its side?
Nearly half of this volume is occupied with Reflections on Prayer,' which exhibit abundant proof of the devotional zeal of the author, and of her earnest, and we trust hallowed desire to diffuse this zeal among her fellow-creatures. Mrs. M. would willingly make us more of a praying people, in order, no doubt, to give additional encouragement to the cultivation of those virtues, without the continual growth of which in our hearts and lives we pray in vain. We have not, how
ever, met with any thing new in this part of Mrs. More's work; for, indeed, what could she state on such a subject which had not been repeatedly observed before? grant that much of it is well said, and that Mrs. More has here made some of her remarks glitter with ornament or sparkle with vivacity, still, in general, we must think that the pious author indulges too much in the declamatory style. The progress of her mind over a subject which has so often occupied her thoughts, and with which she has long been so intimately familiarized, is like that of the charioteer whose horses whirl his car along without regarding the rein.
“ Fertur equis auriga, neque audit currus habenas.” Among the author's • Reflections,' we meet with some on the Lord's prayer, which is very properly considered as a model both for our devotion and our practice. If she had taken that view of this prayer to which we have been accustomed, she would have found in it the principles of general religion,' which, as we have previously remarked, she has described as no religion at all :'-—but the Lord's prayer contains none of those doctrinal peculiaritics, in which, according to Mrs. More, and others of her school, the essence of Christianity consists. God is represented as the universal Father, — the great object of man's devotional reverence, of his filial love, and his entire dependence; — while that spirit is impressed towards our fellow creatures which inclines us to overlook their faults, and to live in charity with all men. This is general religion ;' and is it not the religion of Christ? We quote a passage from this part of the work, in which some of the remarks are in unison with our own, though we do not bestow much praise on the diction:
• In the Lord's prayer may be found the seminal principle of all the petitions of a Christian, both for spiritual and temporal things ; and however in the fullness of his heart he will necessarily depart from his model in his choice of expressions ; into whatever laminæ he may expand the pure gold of which it is composed, yet he will still find the general principle of his own more enlarged application to God, substantially contained in this brief but finished compendium.
• Is it not a striking proof of the Divine condescension, that, knowing our propensity to err, our blessed Lord should Himself have dictated our petitions, partly perhaps as a corrective of existing superstitions, but certainly to leave behind him a regulator by which all future ages should set their devotions? and we might perhaps establish it as a safe rule for prayer in general, that any petition which cannot in some shape be accommodated to the spirit of some part of the Lord's prayer may not be right to be adopted.
Here temporal things are kept in their due subordination; they are asked for in great moderation, as an acknowledgement of our dependence on the Giver. The request for the Divine intercession we must of course offer for ourselves, as the Intercessor had not yet assumed his mediatorial office.
• There is in this prayer a concatenation of the several clauses, what in human composition the critics call concealed method. The petitions rise out of each other. Every part also is, as it were,
fenced round, the whole meeting in a circle ; for the desire that God's name may be hallowed, His will be done, and His kingdom come, is referred to, and confirmed by the ascription at the close. If the kingdom, the power, and the glory are His, then His ability to do and to give, are declared to be infinite.'
We shall now conclude our notice of a publication which, though written at an advanced period of life, exhibits no decline in the intellectual powers of its author. She is not less mistress of her subject, or of herself, than in her former productions. She possesses the same stock of sentiment, and the same fluency of style: her mind is not a fountain in a state of exhaustion, but the spring still filows without any deficiency of water, of sound, or of foam.
ART. VII. Emmeline, with some other Pieces. By Mary Brunton,
Author of Self-Control and Discipline. To which is prefixed, a Memoir of her Life, including some Extracts from her Cor. respondence.
8vo. pp. 195 108. 6d. Boards. Murray. 1819. W E observe a sweetness and a delicate propriety in the
publications of some of our female writers, which the compositions of our own sex do not so often possess. In their hands, instruction becomes amusement, and the highest duties of life are inculcated in a manner which makes an equal impression on the imagination and the disposition. Fiction is rendered subservient to the promotion of the soundest principles of morality; and the deepest feelings of the heart, as well as the most sportive powers of the mind, are all excited for the accomplishment of one great end, — the extension of virtuous principle.
If the celebrity of authors were proportioned to the utility of their productions, scarcely any class of male writers could boast a reputation equal to that which their fair rivals have gained. The salutary lessons of divine and moral truth, which in their own form of grave austerity are so repulsive to the light and thoughtless temper of youth, - the inculcation of the great duties of action and life, - the beautiful pictures of the finer feelings of our nature, — all these are so intermingled with the witchery of fiction, that the mind, while it imagines itself to be enjoying only the luxury of a love-tale, is in fact imbibing principles of the highest importance. It is extremely fortunate, too, that at a period like the present, when reading is become so universal an occupation, a species of writing should have arisen which unites in such an eminent degree instruction and attraction: but it is, perhaps, too much to attribute its origin to the passing day, since Richardson was decidedly the first and most eminent writer of this description. The great body of the modern novelists, whatever variety of ability they display, are actuated by the same motive, the inculcation of some virtuous principle; and we now look almost in vain for the merely love-sick and sentimental romance of the last century, or for the exquisite but indelicate humour of Smollet or Fielding.
Among these pleasing expounders of morality, Mrs. Brunton stood pre-eminent, as well for the good taste and style as for the soundness of her works. Her two novels of Self-Control* and Discipline + met with great and well-deserved success; and it was with regret that we beheld the present publication, - an unfinished tale, — and a memoir of her quickly terminated career. The memoir, which is written by her husband, contains one of those pictures of secluded and domestic life, in which our country so eminently and so happily abounds. Married at the age of twenty, she cultivated in the quietude of a Scotch parsonage the principles which she has so well laid down on paper.
Her literary acquirements were far from inconsiderable; she was an excellent French and Italian scholar; and, like every person of literary taste, her miscellaneous reading had been very diffuse. It was long before she was aware of the extent of her own powers; and, occupied with the various cares of her household, her leisure-hours were too much employed in gaining knowlege to allow her to think of imparting it. Having become, however, acquainted with a lady in her immediate neighbourhood, of taste and pursuits similar to her own, they read together, worked together, and talked over, with confidential freedom, their opinions from minuter to the most important points. In this intercourse, blanks were sometimes occasioned by their mutual avocations; and it was in one of these periods that Mrs. B. began the writing of “ Self-Control.”
• At first its author had no design that it should meet the eye of the public. But as her MS. swelled, this design, half uncon* See Rev. vol. Ixv. p. 434.
Ibid. vol. Ixxviii. p. 397.,