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scrutiny to which the progress of society is exposing it. We believe that it must be reformed, or intelligent men will abandon it. As the friends of Christianity, and the foes of infidelity, we are therefore solicitous to diffase, what seem to us nobler and juster views of this divine system.

It was our purpose to consider one more objection to our views, viz. that they give no consolation in sickness and death. But we have only time to express amazement at such a charge. What! A system, which insists with a peculiar energy on the pardoning mercy of God, on his universal and parental love, and on the doctrine of a resurrection and imunortality, such a system unable to give comfort? It unlocks infinite springs of consolation and joy, and gives to him who practically receives it, a living, overflowing, and unspeakable hope. Its power to sustain the soul in death has been often tried ; and did we beJieve dying men to be inspired, or that peace and hope in the last hours were God's seal to the truth of doctrines, we should be able to settle at once the controversy about Unitarianism. A striking example of the power of this system in disaroiing death, was lately given by a young minister in a neighbouring town,* known to many of our readers, and singularly endeared to his friends by eminent Christian virtue. He was smitten with sickness in the midst of a useful and happy life, and sunk slowly to the grave. His religion, and it was that which has now been defended, gave habitual peace to his mind, and spread a sweet smile over bis pale countenance. He retained his faculties to his last hour ; and when death came, having left pious counsel to the younger members of his family, and expressions of gratitude to his parents, he breathed out life, in the language of Jesus, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit. Such was the end of one, who held, with an unwavering faith, the great principles which we have here advanced; and yet our doctrine bas no consolation, we are told, for sickness and death!

We have thus endeavoured to meet the objections which are commonly urged against our views of religion; and we have done this, not to build up a party, but to promote views of Christianity, which seem to us particularly suited to strengthen men's faith in it, and to make it fruitful of good works and holy lives. Christian virtue, Christian holiness, Love to God and man, these are all which we think worth contending for; and these we believe to be intimately connected with the system now maintained. If in this we err, may God discover our error and disappoint our efforts.- We ask no success, but what He may approve--no proselytes, but such as will be inproved and rendered happier by the adoption of our views.

* Rev. John E, Abbot, of Salem.

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Books of Devotion exert an influence over the religious world more extensive and more powerful, we believe, than is generally supposed. Other books are read but by few, and have but little influence on the few that read them; and often, indeed, directly the opposite influence from what was intended. But this is not the case with books of devotion. All men read them, and all men think they understand them. They constitute the whole reading of many, and of course supply them with all their religious sentiments. They are also commonly addressed to the imagination and passions, and must therefore have a much greater effect than books addressed to the understanding. The subject too, on which these books treat, is one above all others interesting and engaging, and every thing which they contain must on this account come to the mind with greater weight, 'In addition to all this, the views and feelings of the writers of these books, strike us as being in the main highly commendable, and so much are we pleased with the earnestness and power with which they press on mankind the importance and necessity of devotion to God, that we are predisposed to admit whatever they may advance in this connexion; so much do we applaud their general purpose, that we unconsciously come into all their peculiarities, and adopt them as our own, without so much as once questioning their authority. Let the hints, which we have here thrown out, be duly considered, and we think that all must unite with us in believing, that books of devotion have more to do than any other books, in forming the opinions and moulding the character of religious men. Controversial and espository writings have done something, and there are times when they are peculiarly useful. But their influence is as nothing, compared with that of devotional works. Baxter's “Call to the Unconverted" has done more to propagate his peculiar sentiments, than all the rest of his five folio volumes ; Doddridge's "Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul” has had more effect on the minds of men, an hundred times over, than his “ Family Expositor ;" and Allein's “ Alarm” has made a thousand converts, where New Series - vol. I.


Edwards' and Emmons' metaphysical speculations bave made, or ever will make, one.

Since then the actual influence of these books is so great, it is of the utmost importance that they should be of such a kind that their influence may also be good, purely good, without any mixture of evil. They may be made the mightiest of all engines to move the feelings and wield the prejudices of the world, and it is therefore so much the more necessary, that they should be employed exclusively on the side of humanity and truth. It is to be deeply regretted that this is not always the case. Numbers of them, we apprehend, are enlisted in the service of error and bad feelings, inculcating sentiments and breathing a spirit no where to be found in the gospel. There is too much reason to fear, that many of those books, purport. ing to be books of devotion, do little else but propagate wrong opinions and wrong dispositions, acting on the minds of men with a power as mischievous as it is extensive and lasting. Even those books, the leading object and general tenour of which are decidedly good, often have their consistency destroyed, and their good effect in a great measure prevented, by the occasional introduction of sentiments at which every enlightened christian must revolt. In almost every such in. stance, we have been sorry to see, that what is good does little but recommend wbat is bad in the publication ; we mean, that the earnest spirit and pious desigo exbibited throughbut such publications seem to answer no end, but the evil one of giving toʻthe errors and absurdities they countenance a currency and popularity, which they would not oberwise have obtained. We are fully persuaded, that many of the opinions prevalent at the present day, and which we cannot but think to be both unscriptural and irrational, are indebted almost entirely to a few popular devotional works, for the strong hold they have gained on the affections of the people.

More might well be written on this point, for we do not think it has yet attracted sufficient attention from those, whose office and duty it is to expose and correct the errors and mistakes that may exist on the subject of religion. What has been said, however, we presume is enoagh to convince any one, that ihe influence of books of devotion may be as disas. trous as it is general. They may be made to do much good, but they may also be made to do much evil. No books, therefore, should be watched with greater jealousy. ; none should be criticised with greater severity; and none should be selected and recommended with greater care.

From the vast mass

of devotional works, of which many deserve no praise, none should be selected and recommended, but such as are pure in sentiment, catholic in spirit, and chasle in style ; for so long as those of a different description are circulated and approved, it is in vain to think of counteracting by any other means, the bad influence they will have on the minds of men.

As therefore it is of the utmost importance that books of devotion should be selected with judgment and care, we shall attempt to suggest a few of those rules by which we should be governed in making this selection. We are aware that by following these rules, many popular works, whose authority has almost superseded that of the Bible, will be rejected. But for the consequences of these rules, it will be recollected, we are not answerable. It is nough for us to show, that the rules themselves are founded in truth, and that they are such as men of sense and discernment must approve.

Our first rule, then, is, that we should discountenance such books of devotion as are calculated to give wrong ideas of the nature of devotion itself. Devotion is nothing else but practical piety: It consists in cherishing diligently and babitually the principles of true piety, and applying them to the regulation of the temper and the government of the life. This is devotion; and a book, which recommends any thing else under the sanction of this name, ought to be discountenanced. We are aware that the writer of it may be animated by a sincere desire to do good-that he may be actuated by a zeal for what he deems to be religion ; still, however, we maintain that the book itself must have a dangerous tendency. By misleading us as to wbat constitutes a devout frame of mind, it must also mislead us as to what ought ever to be the subject of our prayers, and the object of our exertions, and give a wrong direction to all our religious principles. It must also dispose us to place an ill-grounded confidence in a spurious kind of devotion, which ought not so much as to be named with that which is genuine -leading us to aim at that alone, to rest contented with it, and to hold it, and build on it as a succedaneum for something better. Such works are liable to all the objections that can be brought against the doctrine of penance among the Catholics, which has substituted in the room of true christian self-denial, a multitude of unmeaning and profitless acts of self-moriification. All books, therefore, which, under the colour of recommending devotion, recommend what is not devotion, but some. thing different and inferior, and often highly injurious-all such books as recommend devotion, making it however lo consist, not in a steady frame of the affections, in which the man is led to

live and act under a constant sense of the divine character, presence and government, but in certain fervours of the imagination, certain transports of feeling, or, in short, in any excitement of the mind that is at the same time unnatural, unaccountable, and ungovernable--all such books, we think, should be avoided as dangerous; and we conceive it to be the solemn duty of every serious and enlightened christian, to discourage their circulation.

Another rule of importance to be observed in selecting good devotional works is, to be on our guard against those writers who seize every opportunity to insinuate their own peculiar and erroneous sentiments. Devotion does not depend on the peculiar doctrines of any sect. It does not result from any peculiar views of the christian scheme. But it grows up in the human mind from contemplating aright those great principles of religion, which are held in common by all believers. It springs from seriously considering that relation which we all admit Man bears to God-from considering the Supreme Being as our proprietor, governour, Father and friend. These are the considerations to which all true devotion must ultimately be referred, and to these alone; and these are considerations, the justness of which no one can doubt, and the force of which no one will question. Yet it is the fault of most men, that they are apt to think more, and lay more stress, on those doctrines by which they are distinguished from others, than upon those in which all are agreed. Devotional writers especially, are ever prone to introduce and insist upon their own peculiar opinions, on every occasion which they can either find or make. Perhaps it is because they value religious truth more dearly ; but certain it is, that in works professedly written for the sole purpose of inculcating devotion, many of them omit no opportunity to insinuate their own peculiar views as highly important, if not absolutely essential, to a devout frame of mind. It is true they do not undertake formally to defend the dogmas of their school; but, what is a great deal worse, they take them for granted ; they assume them as incontestable truths--as undisputed principles, lying at the root of all religion. And in this light they are too apt to be viewed and admitted by the incautious and unsuspecting reader, without so much as once allowing himself to suppose it possible that they are unfounded. Thus it is that errors are propagated without end, and that, too, the more effectually, because propagated in connexion with some of the most impressive and affecting truths of religion, and united and blended with some of the deepest and holiest feelings of our

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