And this reminds us that Dr. Dewey has expressed all this better than we can do. We give his closing passage, with the omission of a clause in its first sentence, infected with that false taste from which the very best American writers are not free:from which Channing himself did not at all times escape.

“ When he fell in the conflict, when he died, * —what was the feeling that burst forth in the places that knew him—in the entire country that venerated him? No conqueror's wreath should be taken in exchange by me, for that simple feeling. The whole country felt, all sectional and sectarian prejudices forgotten, that a great man was fallen ; that one who sat higher than in seats of office, had fallen ; that a light which shone long time in our firmament, purely and brightly, was gone down ; and that the land was left darker for its mournful departure. And those who knew him and loved him looked on aghast, scarce receiving what they heard ; scarce believing what they saw, deeming it strange, if possible, that such a one should be dead! I know not but I am uttering what is more personal than I ought to suppose to prevail far ; but I am tempted to say was there ever a feeling so singular, so peculiar, so sad and wondering, as that which we have felt about the death of Channing ? as if his life were a part of our daily light, and could not cease to shine upon us! as if his wisdom was a part of our daily food, and could not so fail us ! as if his influence upon us had become one of the fixed ordinances of our being, and could never pass away!

“Oh! in that feeling methinks there is an augury and an oracle. He is not dead to us, nor we to him. His words are still in our ears. We still walk in his light, though sorrowing now for a while—sorrowing most of all, that we shall see his face no more!”-p. 40,



1. A Prayer Bell for the Universal Church. By Walter C. Perry

This is a valuable and beautiful aid to devotional meditation. It consists of brief Reflections preparatory to Morning and Evening Prayer, and Addresses intended for partakers of the Holy Communion. The Reflections are in number Fifteen, one for each morning and evening in the week, and an additional one to be used in seasons of affliction. Each is headed by a few lines of sacred poetry from Watts, Montgomery, Hemans and others, and by a few impressive and well-selected verses from Scripture. The only way to test the value of such a book as this is to use it. To look it through in a day is to do it no justice, because an interval is necessarily required between the reading of the several portions of it, to allow of the feelings recurring to a state suitable to the purposes intended to be promoted by it. But even from such a perusal as this we rise with a most favourable impression of the volume. The Reflections are striking in expression, and devotional in spirit. They appear to us so equably-sustained, that the transfer of any one entire to our pages, would, could we assign so much room to the purpose, give the truest and best impression of their worth. We select a passage or two from the Reflection for Sunday Morning; as the most distinctive in its character.

By the blessing of God we have been permitted to see another Sabbath; and if we think and feel rightly we cannot greet this day without emotion. It is the day of rest. And if it were nothing more than this, it ought still to be holy in our eyes, for the blessed influence it exerts upon mankind, and especially on the toil-worn poor. this day of all the seven, the earth is at rest and is quiet.' The struggling, toiling and contending millions bave ceased to struggle and contend, relieved, as it were, by the hand of God Himself, from the penalty of Adam, from the burdens of Mammon, the insatiable taskmaster. What but a sense of religion, what but an ordinance of God, could have wrung from the hands of the rich and powerful so great a boon to those who toil for them this? Were it nothing more, then, than a day of rest, it were a ballowed and a blessed day to all who have gained by labour the luxury of repose."


“During the week that is past, we have worshipped together as a family, we trust, in unity and godly love. And when on this sacred day we join with the members of the great household of faith in the more public and solemn services of religion, we should be able to greet them with the same kindly dispositions which we feel towards one another; not only giving the name, but cherishing the confidence and the love of Brethren, towards all who seek to do our heavenly Father's will. If in such a frame of mind we seek the Lord in the temples we consecrate to Him,

our prayer

shall return’ with a blessing to our own bosoms, and we shall find favour in the sight of him who hath declared that wherever two or three are met together in his name, he is there in the midst of them.'”

Of the Sacramental Addresses, there are five-three before, and two after Communion. The first is “on the origin of the rite called the Lord's Supper,” and is historical in its character -the rest are practical and devotional. No doubt the Author has used them in his own ministrations, and we think that many of his Brethren might find variety and satisfaction in the adoption of some thoughts suggested by them, in their own celebration of the same service.

We take the following passage from the second address :

“ He can have but little knowledge of the necessities of his own or others’ hearts, who looks with indifference on the long-established customs of religion in general, and more especially on that holy commemorative right which we, with far other feelings, we trust, propose this day to celebrate. He has but little right feeling or true philosophy, in whose mind the question, 'what good will it do me?' perpetually arises, when he is invited to join with his fellows in the services of Religion. By the constant repetition of such a query, a man may soon reason himself out of almost everything which is really and truly good.

Of what good,' he may say, 'of what good is it to me to read in Holy Scripture that which is already so familiar to me? of what good to join in

prayer for blessings to Him whose ways are immutable? of what good to hear principles and truths expounded of which I am already persuaded ?' and 'of what good is it,' he might say, 'to mourn over the Saviour's sufferings and death, or to eat and drink the symbols of his body? they are but bread and wine; to eat of them is no merit in the sight of God, and we no longer believe that their taste can confer immortality.' And thus, the scorner seeketh wisdom and findeth it not;' this is the way which seemeth right to a man, but the end thereof is death,' Great, doubtless, are the evils attendant on unreason.. ing faith ; numerous and destructive are the errors into which superstition leads men ; but let us be assured that there is no more fatal error than that of bringing every thing to the test of mere utility-no evils greater than those which arise from regulating every movement of the heart by a calculation of profits. Superstition may obscure and distort our view of spiritual things, but a too eager chase after immediate advantage will carry us away from God and Heaven altogether.”

And then, after referring to the confidence of the disciples in their unswerving attachment to their Master and to Truth, and to their being scattered every man to his own and leaving him alone, the Address proceeds

“ And though we believe, is there no danger that we too should be scattered every man to his own ? '—that our hearts should be turned from God to the pursuit of selfish interests, and to the gratification of mean desires ? Do we find, as a matter of fact, that the mere knowledge of what is right, the mere assent of the intellect and the judgment to the truth of Jesus' words, is sufficient to keep us in the path of life, and guide us to our distant home? Or can it be said, with any truth, that if this faith and knowledge be not sufficient of themselves, all aids to them are vain. We are so much the creatures of circumstance ; our feelings and actions, at any particular moment, take their colour and their character so much from present influences ; our hearts are so chameleon-like in their changeful hues, that it were the height of folly to be careless of the influences to which they are habitually subject, to neglect to place them in the brightest sunshine, and expose them to the purest breeze.”

“ If we watch the career of the good and great, we shall not find that they are, as it were, machines which are kept in uniform and steady motion by the force of heavenly principles, but that they too have had their periods of wandering and slumber ; that like the stars which shine upon this lower world, they do not always yield their light, but are often hidden from our eyes by clouds. Let us not, then, forsake,” &c.

We have been so much pleased with the execution of this little book, that we were near forgetting to express our entire dissent from the principle which the Author lays down in his Preface, and in reference to which he seems to have composed the Reflections. He thinks that Family Prayer as usually conducted is only an influence leading to the desire of Prayer, rather than Prayer itself. And “it is intended that the Reflections should be read aloud, and that at their close, the members of the family, assuming their usual attitude of prayer, should devote a period of silence to communion with Him, who knoweth the hearts of His children with their various weaknesses and wants.” The objections to the plan proposed are, we think, obvious. Family Prayer is an act of social worship. This would make it an act of personal worship. Personal prayer is all-important, and should not be neglected, and it is for the encouragement of such a habit in the young, that such books of devotion as Mr. Wellbeloved's and Miss Martineau's, (containing both the preparation for prayer and prayer itself,) have been published. But Family Prayer is a distinct thing, designed at once as the guide and the expression of the common feelings of religion, to be entertained by members of the same household. Individual prayer is best conducted in the closet; family prayer in the room of general meeting of a household, and public prayer in the house of the congregation. The Author's idea, in no way, however, affects the worth or usefulness of his volume. It may still be adopted in Families, either on the Author's own plan, or by the addition of a short suitable prayer from another


II. An active an enlightened Laity essential to the prosperity of the Christian Church. A Discourse on occasion of the death of George William Wood, Esq., M.P. By John James Tayler, B.A. With the services at the interment, and a sketch of his Character. London: 1843.

The Laity, an immense majority when compared with the professional teachers of Religion, is the Christian Church; but even the peculiar offices of its Ministers cannot be efficiently and successfully performed without the sympathy, co-operation, and support of pious and enlightened laymen. The Presbyterian Congregations, and their modern successors, lived and live, in a strange ignorance of this truth. Not indeed that there


not be found laymen disposed even to an exaggeration of their iniportance in their individual churches,-but that there is everywhere throughout the English Presbyterian, or Unitarian Denomination a total absence of any organization through which the members of the same congregation may associate together for benevolent action, draw one another into close connection with the various institutions of Christian usefulness that spring from its bosom, and collect the effective sympathies and aid of each family and individual it contains upon every practical arrangement relating to its temporal or spiritual interests. The absence of all such organization is one of the principal sources of our weakness as a religious Body. Men require a more living connection with the Church of Christ than that of mere listeners. Even in their relations to a Congregation they must be “doers of the word not hearers only,” if they are to be held very closely to it by that sense of moral satisfaction which is the strongest ligament, and which an actual participation in Christian action can alone afford. Our Author once prepared a plan for the internal organization of individual Congregations, with a

« ForrigeFortsett »