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what they conceive to be the liberty and virtues of ancient Greece, and her famed republics,—the theme of poetry and declamation, and of that classical learning which is considered to have conferred on us such benefits, and which is so exclusively the study of our early years.
We have not space to enter on the view which follows, of the improvement that accompanied the introduction of Christianity, but it is neatly and conclusively exhibited, especially the argument that would attribute the comparative mildness of modern governments to the consequence of encreased civilization, as distinct from Christianity. Mr. Harness ably demonstrates that civi. lization is the consequence of our purer religion,—that even those who deny its truth, or neglect its duties, are still influenced by it, “by the persuasions of that religious faith, which, like the sunshine and the showers of the God from whom it emanated, sheds its salutary influence on the evil and on the good.”(Vol. i. p. 9.) It is very plain that the improved morals of mankind are owing to the superior knowledge that Christianity bestows; and even the consideration of its principles teaches those who most disdain them, “ something of the temperance of truth."
Mr. Harness next treats of the effects of Christian principles with regard to their influence on the rich and the poor, in their mutual relation to each other ; and takes occasion to reason at length on the operation of the poor-laws. This, although we consider the poorlaws hurtful to those they are intended to relieve, and generally agree in his observations, we think a misplaced digression from his subject, quite irrelevant to the one he proposes, and in some degree unjust to the class which we are confident he desires to befriend. For un
less much modification takes place in the present arrangements of the conflicting interests of servant and employer,-unless new rates of wages are settled, and more universal employment can be habitually found the poor laws are necessary to the existence of a great body of people ; and we consider it neither well-judged nor kind to speak of the evils of what the poor believe to be their right, when we have not occasion to mention the better regulations, and the improvements which would allow of its removal to their advantage.
The second volume contains the sections devoted to prove that Christian opinions are essential to the happiness of domestic and private life,—that they could not have been established by the unaided powers of the reason,--and that, in their absence reason could not have suggested any substitutes that might supply their loss. These propositions are all skilfully maintained, and are, perhaps, the most generally interesting. The sanctity which Christian morals alone confer in an eminent degree, on marriage, is very eloquently described ; and the too prevailing opinion which lead to the comparative, if not entire, difference with which the violation of its vow by the husband is generally considered, are most powerfully condemned. We introduce a short extract, exhibiting the tone sustained, and as the occasion of a few observations on the style :
And this pretended inferiority of guilt, in what does it consist ? Why is the transgression of the adulterer to be considered as a light transgression ? With respect to the confusion of progeny, on which such an important stress is laid by every unchristian moralist, it is one of those lesser accidents which hardly deserves consideration from any man who contemplates the offence in its severer character ; who does not prize the temporalities of the earth before the blessings of eternity; or estimate the misappropriation of an inheritance, before loyalty in love, and chastity of mind, and purity of heart, and the reverence of a solemn oath, and the favour of Almighty God.-Vol. ii. p. 88.
The whole structure of this sentence,--the manner of connecting and grouping the expressions, their opposition heightening each,-reminds us of the splendid writing of Jeremy Taylor, whom Mr. Harness manifestly appears to have frequently proposed to himself as a model, and a better one he could scarcely find. But although we are reminded of that writer, we are so as much by what we miss, as by what resembles him. Mr. H. always writes elegantly and correctly, and sometimes with force; but it appears the effect of diligence and study. There is not the gushing flow of words,—the profuse and varied imagery,-the poetical and tender diction,-which come directly from the heart, and give so peculiar a character of warmth and beauty to the preeminently pious writings of Taylor. We have seen a former publication of Mr. Harness, “ The Wrath of Cain," also a Boyle Lecture, the style of which struck us as more flowing; and we are tempted to believe that, as is frequently the case with others, if Mr. Harness wrote with less care, he would produce greater effect. Where he treats of the consolations which Christianity brings to the calamities of life, he is peculiarly successful, and we give the following passage as containing a most just view of the point under discussion, and as a confirmation of the foregoing remarks :
There are others—and of such, perhaps, is the large majority of mankind—whose natural sensibilities are suppressed beneath the weight of various occupations, and are only awakened to a transient consciousness of being, in some moment of violent or extraordinary excitement; and these, to-day, follow weeping behind the corse of the departed, and then look down into the grave, and then dash away the tear, and then every melancholy reflection on their loss is dissipated by the more urgent and immediate interests of the morrow:-and neither do these feel the necessity of any support from the suggestions of religion. But there is yet another class, whose souls are more exquisitely wrought, and vibrate to the touch of sorrow with a thrill of longer and of deeper feeling. There are real mourners, who cannot thus readily eradicate the trae e
of affection, who cannot erect the monumental marble to spread abroad the memory of virtues which they themselves have committed to oblivion. Vol. ii. p. 170.
Those who have lost an object of beloved affectionwho have seen their friend or their child expire--they can tell the efficacy of Christian consolation. In prosperity, Religion gilds every golden object, throws a perfume on the violet, and adds a charm to existence that does not of itself belong to life. Mr. Harness has collected the feelings and admissions on this subject of the most celebrated infidels of all ages, and strikingly exhibits the burthen which life must prove, uncheered by religious hope. But it is in affliction, in poverty, and depression, that the divine consolation of our faith is most apparent. It elevates the poor and ignorant to a level with the learned and the prosperous – it even exalts above them. Those alone, who have contemplated the deathbed of the lowly, can tell of the dignity which it confers--of the pangs which it assuages—of the joys to which it gives rise.
If Christianity be necessary for the poor, how far more is it so to the rich, who, removed from the obligation to labour, find the restless mind ever craving for something which reason can neither explain or procure. The indulgence of feeling, the pleasures of imagination, the glow of enthusiasm, when devoid of the active principle of faith, all tend to what has been conventionally termed, ennui. This word may be considered of light application, and the feeling it conveys may be treated as a trifling evil, but its withering powers, and the crimes even, to which it will lead as surely as the malignant passions, render it of supreme dread to the reflecting, and the terror of the heedless. But the Christian is freed from all this lassitude of exis
tence, he alone truly lives,-he draws the sting both from life and death :
But whether the dissatisfaction that the soul experiences, amid the most affluent accumulation of temporalities, be derived particularly from any one of the causes I have recounted, or from an union of the whole, it is evident that the Christian is exempted from their operation, by the motives of his conduct, the object of his desires, and the aim of his exertions. If others, at the brightest and most luxuriant crisis of their fortunes, lament over the unexpected solicitudes of a state which they had anticipated as the conclusion of their anxiety and their toil, the disciple of the Redeemer has no such miscalculations to detect. All the difficulties of his task are honestly exposed to his inspection. They are connected with his first rude and inexperienced efforts, and they disappear as he gradually acquires the dominion of his passions, and attains the habit and facility of virtue. If others open to themselves a new source of infelicity in the very fruition of their earthly prospects, and, after attaining the accomplishment of their desires, become distressed from vacuity of occupation; the object of the Christianos emulation, alluring from beyond the grave, interests the prospective activity of the mind, by a pursuit as enduring as his existence, and which constantly encourages his perseverance by livelier presentiments of joy. If others are oppressed and agitated by the restless consciousness of faculties inadequately employed, and of energies unworthily consumed, the faithful disciple of Christ is delivered from these occasions of disquietude; for his affections, his hopes, and his exertions, are strenuously directed to the achievement of one end, as infinite as his capacities, as eternal as his nature, as blest as the destiny of angels, and as glorious as the throne of God.
But with these advantages immediately resulting from the nature of his pursuit, and which he possesses as an additional and exclusive interest in his existence, the Christian derives a real increase of happiness from these accessions of temporal prosperity, which to others only communicate a toil of insipid entertainment, and a burthen of unprofitable splendour. Those acquisitions of fame or wealth, of place or honour, which to the children of the world are only golden in expectation, and prove worse than tinsel on possession, to the Christian really do contribute something of substantial gratification and valuable enjoyment.
“ All things work together for the good of those *" whose lives are religiously devoted to the service of the Almighty; and, among the innumerable privileges which the Deity has appointed as the indefeasible inheritance of those that love him, he has ordained, that the righteous should achieve by virtue the ends which are ineffectually pursued by vice; that, while they renounce themselves, and only seek to glorify their God, by promoting the benefit of others, they should fall undesignedly
* Romans viii. 28.