Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

may determine for themselves. Imitate herein the great lawgiver of the universe. Consider how much he has left to our free-agency, and how greatly he has thus facilitated our obedience to his commands ! The neglect of this rule, my friends, is the principal cause that so few children learn obedience. If we will be always heaping command upon command, and regulating as it were every posture, every word, every look, every motion of the child or the youth by law, we ourselves cannot be attentive to all these commands, and must of necessity pass over many transgressions of our laws in silence ; and by this means the rest of our laws and ordinances, even the weightiest of them, lose their force, and disobedience becomes habitual.

The Sermons on the Greatness of God in the Works of Nature, and in the Government of the World, contain many pleasing contemplations on these interesting subjects. In those on the Spring of the Year, we meet with a reference to the general Resurrection, in which, although the thoughts be familiar to pious minds, the author's manner of treating them will be found gratifying :

• The renovation and embellishment of the face of the earth, the resuscitation of the life of nature, is a glorious type of the future re. novation and perfection of the human race, of the general resurrection of the dead to the superior life. Yes, christians, when on some bright vernal day, I perceive all things springing from the carth, rising into light, budding, opening into bloom, pushing upwards ; when I behold that which was apparently dead and corrupted, now revived, arrayed in fresh pomp, inspired with new vigour and rejoi. cing in its existence : my imagination immediately transports me to that grand and solemn scene which christianity bids us expect at the end of the world, then I figure to myself the final glorious triumph over all that is called death and corruption; then I hear the Son of tie Father, who is the resurrection and the life, the lord and judge of men calling to the dead; lo they leave their clay.cold beds and arise from their tombs, lo the sea and the deeps, the air and the earth give up the spoils of man committed to them, lo my brethren, my sisters burst the bonds of death and of corruption, behold them all reanimated and transformed, all immortal, endowed with superior powers, restored in the most perfect state of human nature. What a scene of most astonishing revolutions and transformations! What diversity of life and enjoyment of life, of thoughts never yet conceiv. ed and emotions never yet imagined! What a harvest from the sow. ing of all ages, of all the thousands of years that have elapsed since the first to the last of mortals ! What a glorious unravelment of all that appears to us now mysterious and incomprehensible in the ways of providence and the fortunes of mankind! And this I then expect with the firmer faith, as all that I see before me leaves me no room to doubt the inexhaustible vital energy of God and his continual sue perintendance over all his creatures; as I here so distinctly perceive, how glorious the Almighty is, in his care to preserve, to renew, to transmute, to transform, and reinstate all things, even the last and

the micanest, and to conduct them higher from step to step and to bring them nearer to perfection. And in this belief, in this expec. tation I no longer shudder at the thoughts of the grave, am ready without repining to commit my clay-formed body to its parent earth, and in the mean time gladden myself with the idea, that it will hereafter as assuredly.proceed forth of it, reanimated and glorified as a3suredly as the Almighty, who cloaths the spring and raises the caterpillar into a winged insect, suffers none of his creatures to perish, and leaves nothing that is capable of life under the dominion of death.'

In the second Volume, the Sermon on the Miseries of a sinful Life thus contrasts the sufferings of a virtuous and a vis cious character :

Ill affairs of momentous concern, how greatly are ye losers, ye thoughtless and disobedient, in comparison of those who lead a truly virtuous, christian course of life! or, which burden is the heaviest, the burden of the law, of a righteous, equitable law, which we readily obey, and the obedience to which is real feli. city; or the þurden of a bad conscience and the dread of that punishment which is denounced against its transgressors? Which burdeo is the heaviest, the burden of unmerited scorn, of a tran sient ridicule; or the burden of inward dissatisfaction with oneself, of secret, continually persecuting reproaches? Which obedience is the easiest, the most honourable, the most comfortable, the obedience which we pay to the commands of God, the benign and gracious father of all, the commands of Jesus Christ, the mightiest, most inagnanimous deliverer and lord; or ihe obedience which we afford to violent, unbridled, capricious lusts and passions; and to the fickle and often preposterous usages of the world? Which of the two costs more pains and toil, lo refrain from a vile, iniquitous action; or, after having committed it and thereby pro. diced much confusion and disorder within and without us, to repair all this and to satisfy oneself and others ? Which of the two suffers most, the patient and meck man, who stills his impetuosity and is always master of luis temper, or the angry and resentful who yield to their passious, slavishly follow their impulses, and afterwards, when They come to reflict, are sorry for what they have spoken or done? Which of the tivo suffers mist, the placable man, who must pro. bahiy use force upon himself to suppre's his feelings, and sincerely to padon boim whom he believes to have injured hiin, but then, as 8005 as that is over, has thrown off a gritvous load from his heart, and can nov again rejoice in God and man ; or the vindictive and jensplicable man, who entertais batred and malice in his bosom, thereby ambitters all the charms of society, whenever he falls himsedi, or puts oilers into a rage, and must be shy alike of God and 17:11? Woich of the two suffers most, the wise nian who moderates and sits bounds to liis appetites, directs them always to the best objicis, a:''' then is sure of their gratification ; or the slave of sensu. ality, who gives them free scope, cherishes them with complacency, and then can so scidom accomplish his desires, is so frequently deceived by flattering expectations? Oh how easy, how mild, is the dominion of virtue and religion in comparison of the cruel and oppressive yoke of a sinful, unchristian temper and conduct ! How much heavier are the burdens borne to the end of his days by the man who leads such a life, than those which he endeavours therea by to avoid, and which so soon would ccase to be burdensome to him !'

As we frequently hear remarks on the want of happiness in the marriage state, we extract a paragraph from the Sermon on the Causes of the Deficiency in Domestic Pleasure and Happiness, which may help to remove some of the evils that are the subjects of complaint:

* Defect of mutual esteem and affection is therefore the first and eertainly one of the leading causes of the defect in domestic pleasure and domestic happiness. Would I court the society and the converse, could I be brisk and gay in the society and converse of one of whom I entertain an ill opinion, to whom I ascribe no good qualities, no honest sentiments, no merits in regard to myself or others, whom I think incapable of teaching me anything, of helping and assisting me in anything, or of contributing anything to my happiness? And how frequently is not this the case between relative's and members of families ! How frequently is ic not sordid interest or blind passion that knits the most sacred and indissoluble of all ties! And when once the charm of the purchased or inveigled prize has lost its novelty, when passion gives way to calm reflection, how soon Etust that connection be weakened or dissolved which was only cemented by lucre or passion! This gross deception however cut of the case, how frequently do we build our domestic happiness on expectations that are contrary both to the nature of man and of things ! We expect from human beings superhuman perfection : capacities without limitation, virtues without a fiaw, light without shade. We expect pleasure withonc any trouble, joy without any appendage of sorrow and care. Is the expectation, as it cannot be otherwise, un. fulfilled ? we imagine ourselves deceived, defrauded: overlook all the beautiful and good that really exists in the object of our disappointment; esteem it not according to its intrinsic worth, but according to the extravagant, fantastical image which we had previously formed of it; enumerate all the real and imaginary blemisties of it with the atmost accuracy, and complain of unmerited misfortune. How can mutual esteem and affection be there, and how without it domestic happiness be enjoyed ! Consequences not less pernicious frequently atteyd on imprudence. We should be led almost to imagine that domestic life, that the nuptial tie exempte us from the obligation of observing the rules of propriety and decorum. We therefore entirely cease from keeping a guard over ourselves and preserving a clear con. sciousness of our actions, resign ourselves without reserve to our na. £ural or assumed infirmities and failings, make no scruple of shewing ourselves in an unfavourable or disgusting hight, abuse the righcs of familiarity and frankness even to insult, and are apt to persuade our. selves, that persons, who are so iatimately connected together, have

120

No need of reciprocal indulgence and candour. How very much, however, by such imprudent behaviour, must esteem and affection, those two main columns of domestic happiness, be shaken! How much more frequently must this sort of conduct alienate the hearts of those who are guilty of it, than unite them more completely together! How much oftener disturb and embitter their union and their intercourse, than alleviate and sweeten it! No, my pious hearess, would ye enjoy domestic happiness, raise it on the solid basis of tenderness and esteem. Never expect more of one another, than cither party, according to your several capacities, endowments, edu. eation, circumstances and situation, is able to afford. Expect not from one another faultess, perfect, and uninterrupted satisfaction, but always a variety of imperfections and frailties, a variety of troubles and uneasiness. Accustom yourselves therefore to remark rather the good and excellent, than the bad and defective, that either of you possess, and be as careful to hold up to the light and to rejoice in the formci, as to excuse and conceal the latter. Shew either to other the greater tenderness and indulgence, the greater opportunity and means you have of more clearly perceiving the proximate and remoter occasions of your mutual infirmities and failings. At the same time pever, never lose sight yourself of what is proper and decorous ; let reciprocally the other perceive as little as possible your failings and defects; let neither be indifferent to the judgment and approbation of the other, but each of you take pains to convey to the other, by the use of all legitimate and allowable means, a good opinion of yourself, or to confirm it if already entertained. Thus alone can you be animated by mutual esteem and tenderness, and when you are animated by them, what sources of domestic pleasure will they not open to you! Where will it be possible for you to seek and find greater satisfaction and felicity, than where you may safely reckon upon mutual tenderness and esteem?'

From these quotations, the reader will see how well qualified was the author for discussing the subjects which he undertook. To some, probably, his style may appear too diffuse ; yet the reason of this is sufficiently explained, when it is considered that the discourses were written for the purpose of being dilivered separately; and that, from an anxiety to place his subjects in a variety of lights, he could not well avoid a seeming concurrence of ideas. His mode of expression is on the whole perspicuous and impressive, often lively, and generally pleasing. His rules for the general conduct of life shew how far he studied the duties of mankind in their several relations, and are of the highest value.--Though the religious sentiments contained in these volunes may not altogether accord with those which are by us termed orthodox, yet they are not obtruded on the reader; the opinions, which differ from those that are generally received, are brought forwards only when the nature of the subject re, quired them; and when they are expressly stated, they are offered in a conciliating manner. Those persons, who may be dissaris.

fied with the author on account of some of the doctrines which he teaches, will likewise be displeased with him for not more frequently quoting and using the language of scripture, and on this account will think that many of the sermons deserve rather the title of Moral Discourses than that which is given to them: but, though the subjects are certainly treated in a manner too refined and philosophical for the majority of mankind, as the congregation of the author consisted chiefly of the higher classes, the consideration of this circumstance will in a great measure justify the style which he used. Whatever objections some readers may make to his doctrines and choice of words, all pious persons must be pleased with his earnestness and animation, and must allow him ample credit for his forcible exhortations to the practice of virtue.

With respect to the translation, not having the original at hand, we cannot ascertain its fidelity: but from the character of the language we have every reason to expect that justice has been rendered to the author.' We observe, however, some objectionable expressions; and we occasionally find words, which represent only general ideas, used to express particular significations; that is, words in the plural number which do not admit of a plural, such as, existences, eternities, felicities, assistances, &c. We marked also several terms which are either not sanctioned by the best writers, or are become too obsolete for discourses of this nature ; such as caducity, fugaciousness, offuscate, effectue ate, appetences, abnegation, exundation, unimpededly, &c. Our language has more intelligible expressions, by which the ideas here intended to be represented may be expressed, and the translator would do well to avoid using them in future. These blemishes, however, are comparatively trifling; in a work in which effect is more to be considered than polished elegance and refined correctness of style.

ART. VI. A Grammar of the Greek Tongue, on a new and improved

Plan. By John Jones, Member of the Philological Society at Manchester. 12mo. PP. 360. 6s. Boards. Longman and Co. An attempt to facilitate the acquisition of a language of such

elegance and importance as the Greek must meet with some commendation, even though the merit of the performance should fall short of our expectations : but when a person pos. sessed of real erudition, and critical acumen, exerts his powers in this department, his labours claim the approbation and applause of the learned world ; to which he renders the most essential gervice, Truly laudable are his efforts who smooths the way to

the

« AnteriorContinuar »