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SOMPRISING ORIGINAL REVIEWS, BIOGRAPHY, ANALYTICAL AB
STRACTS OF NEW PUBLICATIONS, TRANSLATIONS FROM FRENCH JOURNALS, AND SELECTIONS FROM THE MOST ESTEEMED BRITISH
VOL. II. NO. II. AUGUST, 1820.
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY JIES VIXIELL,
6. E, CORNER OF WALNUT AND FOUNTII SERIS,
Art. I.--Sermons preached in the Tron Church, Glasgow,
By Thomas Chalmers, D. D. 1 vol. Republished at New
York, from the Glasgow edition. HOWEVER vexatious may be the controversies which Christians of different religious denominations carry on with each other, yet, we suppose, that every candid observer will agree, that they are all concerned respecting an object of unspeakable importance. Interesting are the social affections, the arts of empire, the mines of knowledge, the gardens of literature, and the scenes which fancy paints in the region of the clouds. Useful are the various orders of labour, distri. buted with skill throughout society, and the devices by which that labour is abridged. Ornamental are the products of the fine arts.
We live in a world where there is much to slake the thirst for happiness; much to exercise and improve the faculties of body and mind. But to each individual how soon do these things pass away! How often do families become extinct. How evanescent is national glory! Perish, is the motto written on every thing earthly.
Let us, therefore, cast our eyes further, and survey that permanent state of things, which is to succeed this transitory scene. Human nature, balanced on the brink of eternity, looks out into the expanse, but can discern nothing. Revelation
alone can satisfy the inquiry; and he that turns from this, must relinquish all pretensions to true wisdom.
We behold death reigning throughout the world. That death is an evil, will scarcely be denied, and, under the Di. vine government evil cannot exist but as a punishment, which implies crime committed by all. How can criminali. ty exist in the actions of infants and idiots! Reason points to the inevitable result, that the nature of man is depraved.
If we observe, minutely, the first dawnings of moral action, in the infant mind, we cannot fail to encounter the melancholy truth, that each individual's natural propensities are in favour of evil, and hostile to gond. Let each reader peruse the earliest records of his memory, and
and he will find this language plainly inscribed on them.
Evil is the lord paramount, in human action. Seated on the throne of the heart, it controls every province of body and mind; nor ever more successfully, than when it conceals, under a fair and decent outside, internal darkness and disor. der. It employs various delusive arts, to hide the man from himself, and he goes thoughtlessly on, careless of his path. Outward aliment is never wanting to satiate the appetite for destruction; but this is not needed, for the mind can easily riot on its own stores. Since the creation, education has tried it plastic influence, and the pruning knife of the law has been exercised on man, but he is still the same crooked plant, as when these cares were first employed.
Conscience, if appealed to, will give the same verdict. Where exists the individual, who, if he coolly and calmly ask himself the question, whether or not he is naturally in. clined towards evil, and averse from good, will not readily meet with an unfavourable answer?
The ease attending vicious actions, and the difficulty of virtuous ones, proves the same thing. When Virtue in. vited Hercules, it was to a series of dangers, and hardships; but Pleasure pointed to the bowers of Ease, where every thing conspired to regale the sense, and to sooth the mind. Excellence was typified by an ascent, which is attended witb difficulty; vice, by a descent, which is made without exertion.
facilis descensus Averni:
Virg. Æn. l. vi. v. 126. 131.
! The gates of hell are open night and day;
Now, how could it have happened, unless evil were na. turally congenial to the human mind, and virtue a plant which must be engrafted on the parent stock, that a vicious course is so easy, and an upright one so difficult?
Even the exertions of fancied virtue are often more fatal, in their effects, than the torpor of indolence, or the listless languor of repose, and the principal part of the sufferings of mankind have been inflicted by those, in whom divine providence stirred up, to vigorous action, the principles of the human heart, revealing them, in open conduct, in a full and unconstrained display,
For a being to change his own nature, is impossible, how. ever, that nature may be controlled. Man is mercifully endowed with reason, by which he is enabled to see the direct tendency of bad actions to produce misery, and of good ones to ensure happiness. Guided by this directress, he has achieved much, in strenthening the bands of social order, and