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My fate is in Thy righteous keeping,
Thou, all-designing -guiding-seeing,
It anchors in a port above.' We select from the third week, the hymn for Friday Morning, on account of its being one of the very few that contain any reference to the Saviour.
* This is the day, when prejudice and guilt The blood of innocence and virtue spilt !
'Twas in those orient Syrian lands afar,
And from the darkest shades, like some fair star
Of midnight, scattering beams of light afar.' pp. 137-9. We take one more specimen from the fourth week: it is Tuesday Morning
• Almighty One! I bend in dust before Thee :
Even so veild cherubs bend;
All-wise, all-present friend!
Or curtained it in snow ;
Before thy presence bow.
That map so fair and bright;
Pouring its streams of light.
Quickenest the teeming sea :
Thine, heaven's soft harmony.
Thine is the thunder-cloud,
To the tomb's solitude.
Heaves with Thy mighty breath ;
Drops in the lap of death.
Thee in their orbits bless;
Proclaim Thy righteousness.
That woke it into day;
Shall bid that world decay.
On stars and glowing suns;
Waft Thee seraphic tones,
An offering worthy Thee,
Blest notes of ecstacy!
Just breathing from my breast ;
A mingled song, of worthlessness and meekness,
And feeble hope at best.
Should speak as angels speak,
Thy seat of light should seek.
How terrible the sound !
Of strength-may I be found !
As when 't will cease to beat ;
When I my God shall greet.' pp. 1646. Considered as poetry, there is much that is pleasing, and melodious, and occasionally striking in these matins and vespers ; although they are not free from marks of carelessness and false tase, and the rhymes are sometimes inadmissibly defective and quite below the dignity of serious poetry. But, as the Author has reminded us in his Preface, that the substance. • of piety is of higher interest than any of its decorations,' we waive all further criticism on the composition, and ask, the Bible being the rule and arbiter, Is this ‘ piety? Had we been told that these hymns were free translations of some Greek or Latin odes to the Father of gods and men, which modern researches had brought to light from among the unrolled treasures of Herculaneum, we should have been led to believe that, like the hymn of Cleanthes, they were probably imitations, rather than relics, of the poetry of the ancients; but, were it not for a few exceptions, there would have been nothing to forbid the idea, that they might possibly be the production of some later Platonist or Eclectic philosopher, whose mind had admitted a still further portion of the borrowed light of Christianity, than shines in the pages of Plotinus, or occasionally lights up the eloquence of Tully. An enlightened Deist of any school, whether Western or Eastern, might certainly have been the author of almost any and every matin and vesper in the present collection. And had they heen the production of some Persian Soofi or some old classical theist, we should have been ready to say, This man wanted but the knowledge of the Bible, to be a Christian.
We could not have desired a better illustration, though it is a melancholy one, of the remarks we offered on true and spurious devotion, in treating of love to God*, than is supplied
* Eclectic Review, Feb. 1823. pp. 103—5.
by these poems. We had not then read them-we believe they were not published-or it might have been supposed, that we had some allusion to the Author when we remarked, that men will admit nothing more readily than the doctrine of the general benevolence of God; will descant, with a refined and delusive sentimental pleasure, on the power, and wisdom, and beneficence of the Creator ; while yet, the God of the Bible is so far from being recognised by them, that the most illustrious manifestation which he has made of his character in the redemption and reconciliation of the world to himself through a Mediator, is viewed with indifference or distaste. These poetical contemplations' on the Deity, what are they, but the philosophic musings of a speculative mind, which has embraced its own deified ideal as the object of a sentimental worship, in lieu of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?
The feature which will probably first strike most of our readers, is the irreverent and repulsive familiarity with which the Divine Being is addressed in some of the passages above cited. Mr. Bowring seems to wish to make it appear, that he does not feel to stand in need of a Mediator in drawing near to the Divine Majesty ; that he has no occasion for the doctrine, to enable him to come · boldly' to the throne of grace, for it is not mercy he comes to supplicate. He calls the Supreme Being his all-wise, all-present friend, with an which savours of any thing rather than " reverence and godly “ fear;" and speaks, with an awful misappropriation of language, of greeting God at the day of judgement. Surely, his song breathes the reverse of meekness:' it is the haughty spirit of a guilty worm paying compliments to its offended Maker. The volume is full of expressions partaking of this unhallowed familiarity. Who would imagine that it is the Creator of all things, whom he thus addresses ?
· Wave thy pure wand of mercy o'er me'
· Thy hope shall sweetly play before me.' -a style of invocation only adapted, one would have thought, to some allegorical personage, some guardian spirit of the fancy. But the volume contains things much worse than this -phrases in which irreverence touches on blasphemy. Our readers will have noticed the expression, proud mandate.' This is either nonsense, or it is worse. But what will they think of the following lines, which we feel that we ought almost to apologize for transcribing into our pages ?
• Thy name, Thy glories, they rehearse,