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of the inquirer in this case there might have been given, we think, a far safer answer. It might have been shown him that there lurked an entire fallacy in it; first, inasmuch as he pretended to want help for a thing which he did not wish to do; and secondly, inasmuch as, if he really did wish to turn to God, by the very necessity of the case the thing was already done. And it might have been added, that, whatever change of mind God was requiring of him, he was quite competent to produce it by the exercise of his rational powers on the facts and truths of the gospel. In his concluding reply, to the question, · What can I • do, then ?" the instructor scarcely maintains his consistency. Having just said, “You cannot turn to God,' he immediately adds, "Humble yourself to nothing before God; place yourself in
his hands as a creature deserving to perish; and look up to him through the only Saviour.' How much all this differs from turning to God we confess ourselves unable to understand. We should think that a sinner who can do the one can do the other.
We trust nothing in these remarks will be construed into disrespect to the distinguished author of this narrative, or will wound either his own feelings or those of his friends. We are sure he will feel that the importance of the subject justifies the freest utterance of our sentiments upon it, and that remarks are more especially called for in a case in which facts are brought out from the privacy of a minister's vestry, and exhibited as exemplifications of the manner in which gospel truth may be best applied to the consciences of men. We have our misgivings that the treatment of inquirers is a department of labor in which the great majority of ministers find themselves continually in painful dilemmas; and we should deem it one of the most valuable services which could be rendered to religion if a series of cases could be put out, which should be really illustrative of critical points, and should exemplify a strict evangelical consistency.
Space does not now remain to us for any extended notice of the other works named at the head of this article. The reprint of Mr. Robe's admirable Narrative of the revival of religion at Kilsyth, and other places in Scotland, in 1742, is eminently seasonable, when, through divine mercy, nearly, the same portions of that favored country have been blessed with a renewed work of a similarly gracious character. It cannot be read without interest and advantage. The volume put forth by Mr. Milner is intended, as he informs us, 'to gain attention to special “religious services,' as constituting an instrumentality of important adaptation to usefulness. It consists first of some general remarks on this topic; and then of a series of addresses to persons of various character—to hearers of the gospel, to the indifferent, to the procrastinating, to the favorably disposed, to the sincere inquirer, to the new convert, to the Christian, and to the
church. The topics brought up in such a course would afford occasion for many remarks, not without interest and importance; but, after our protracted notice of other works, we are compelled to dismiss this volume with a general recommendation, as well as the one which we have placed last on our list.
Art. IV. 1. Sacred Poetry of_the Seventeenth Century. In two
vols. With an Introductory Essay, &c. By the Rev. Ř. CATTER
MOLE, B.D. 8vo. London : Rickerby. 2. The Works of George Herbert. In two vols. foolscap 8vo. Lon
don: Pickering IN N spite of Dr. Johnson's rash and dogmatical judgment, Chris
tianity affords the noblest and fittest themes for poetical composition. The dark and unfathomable mine, the boundless ocean, and the starry heavens with their universe of worlds, furnish but feeble emblems of the sublime truths of the Christian system. And the whole subject of religion has an adaptation to our own interests and to all our tenderest feelings, which recommends it to the human heart. The soul of man, even in its fallen and most degraded condition, never abandons its hope of immortality, but clings to it even amidst the most degrading errors and crimes of heathenism itself.
While the poets of the ancient world introduced the gods and heroes of their superstition into all their principal compositions, and wove the fables of their disgusting mythology into the texture of their poems, it is a reproach to Christian nations that our modern bards make so little use of the mysteries and glories of the sacred volume, and that they so seldom even recognize Christianity in their productions. In our own country this has been the case to a disgraceful extent in the poetry of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; even among those authors who are irreproachable on the score of morality. The numerous cantos of Walter Scott have little direct reference to religion. In Southey's poetry, where such reference is far more frequent, it is of a very questionable and latitudinarian kind, coming sometimes in the shape of Romish superstition, sometimes in the disguise of Mahometanism, or in the grotesque and hideous form of the Hindoo mythology; while the pretensions of each creed are urged in turn, as if each were equally true and important, with a gravity unbecoming a Christian and a Protestant. The pages of Wordsworth are pervaded by a beautiful but cold philosophy, which has only a distant and scarcely recognizable affinity to the Christian system. But, what is not less remarkable, Byron and
Moore, two of our poets who have sinned most against the morals and decencies of a Christian country, have made some attempts at sacred poetry, which, as might have been expected, are total failures. Thus by our greatest modern poets little has been done in aid of religion; by those nobly-gifted minds whose works are printed in every foreign country, and translated into all the languages of Europe, and read by all the literary world, how little has been done for the honour of God, and for the best interests of the human race !
We wish to call the attention of our readers to a period in the history of English literature when sacred poetry was not of rare occurrence, but when it was usual for the poet to dedicate some of the efforts of his genius to the service of the temple or the oratory. And there is this remarkable singularity in the sacred compositions of our elder poets, that they have no remote and dubious reference to Christian doctrines; they are not such attempts at praise as may be offered up with equal propriety to "Jehovah, Jove, or Lord; but they recognize at once the most distinguishing and peculiar doctrines of the gospel, and are essentially and only Christian.
The following Hymn to God the Father,' by Ben Jonson, will show the general character of the sacred poetry of the period we refer to.
Of our early poets there are but few who deserve to be called very great. Till Chaucer appeared we had no poetical composilions of very general or lasting reputation : and his works, though they continue to be published and read in our own day, are kept chiefly in the libraries of the learned, and, by their antique
orthography and phraseology, repel the curiosity of common readers
. A long period elapsed between him and Spenser ; but the Faery Queene indicates a vast improvement in the art of poetry. The teeming fancy of Spenser poured forth at will its exuberant stores; ever-shifting visions of chivalry and romance pass before the view of the reader; mingled by turns with scenes of beauty, and with terrible forms of witchcraft and magic. Yet, notwithstanding its universally acknowledged excellence, the Faery Queene palls upon us; and we have rarely known even a determined reader who, in these degenerate days, could achieve a perusal of the whole poem. From his age, till the appearance of Milton, no one, except Shakespeare, can be called a first-rate poet; and, in our opinion, even his glory is lost in the superior lustre of the author of Paradise Lost. Milton carried the art to perfection, and, for beauty and sweetness, as well as for sublimity, in his minor poems, as well as in his greatest work, stands unrivalled and alone. Comus and Lycidas contain passages which could scarcely have been written by any other man.
It is the province of poetry, not so much to give us exact copies of nature, with all its minutiæ and imperfections, as to present .us with certain general resemblances. The poet,
like the painter, selects and arranges various objects, each of which is beautiful in itself; and the effect of the whole, when combined, is that we have something above nature. The poet creates out of the wealth of his own imagination, but the new world which he forms and peoples, must bear some general resemblance to that which we see existing around us. Thus in the epopee and the drama 'some of the most beautiful or striking personages are purely ideal, as the Ariel, the Oberon, and Titania of Shakespeare, and the Satan of Milton : for though Satan is a really existing personage, we never suppose that Milton's description of him is correct. It is a purely poetical character, in which the gloomy and repulsive parts are softened, and a certain degree of attractiveness is imparted to the fiend for the sake of effect.
In the poetical hemisphere, as in that of nature, stars of the first magnitude are seen scattered only here and there, with wide intervals. But in the space between Shakespeare and Milton there are some bright constellations which have been little noticed by the common observer. The poets who flourished in the long period extending from the reign of Elizabeth to that of Charles the Second, are almost unknown to general readers; yet their merits are of a high order. Many of them, it is true, we could not recommend, because they are disfigured by the gross indelicacy which belonged to their age. But we will endeavor to give our readers a general idea of the sacred poetry of this period, and will present them with a poetical anthology which (if we may be allowed to change the figure) we hope will induce a desire to
become better acquainted with those fragrant gardens from which we have plucked a few blossoms. This we shall do from one of the two volumes which we have placed first at the head of this article, in the hope that our specimens may lead to the purchase of the whole.
We begin our extracts with two of the Psalms of David, from the version of George Sandys, the well known oriental traveller, who died in the year 1643. The force, and fire, and harmony of the versification ought to have preserved them from the neglect into which they have fallen, and amply justify the eulogy of Bishop H. King.
Regard thy cry;
And shield from harm;
Be his perfume.
Fir'd from the skies.
Triumphant King :
With joy display;
Will hear, and free;
From his high tower.
To death descend :
Have stood upright.