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little vulnerable. It was this want in some of his people, which led an eminent divine, at once a man of deep piety and lively wit, to say, that "there were some good persons, with whom it would be time enough to be acquainted in heaven." So much to be regretted is it, that goodness of intention is not always attended by propriety in the execution.
"In another class, the want of consistency makes not a few appear over scrupulous as to some minor points, and lax in others of more importance. These incongruities not only bring the individual into discredit, but religion into disgrace. When the world sees persons, whose views are far from high, act more consistently with their avowed views, and frequently more above them, than some whose religion professes to be of a loftier standard, they will prefer the lower, as exhibiting fewer discrepancies, and less obvious contradictions.
"In the more advanced Christian, religion may seem to be less prominent in parts of the character, because it is infused into the whole. Like the life-blood, its vital power pervades the entire system: not an action of the life that is not governed by it; not a quality of the mind which does not partake of its spirit. It is diffused through the whole conduct, and sheds its benign influence, not only on the things done, but on the temper of the doer in performing them. The affections now have other objects, the time other duties, the thoughts other employments. There will be more exertion, but with less display; less show, because the principle is become more interior; it will be less obtrusive, because it is more rooted and grounded. There will be more humility, because the heart will have found out its own corruptions." pp. 72-76.
The second part of this work is entitled, Reflections on Prayer. It has many striking expressions, and impressive paragraphs, but is less interesting as a whole than the former part. Of her sentiments on this subject a few extracts will give sufficient information.
"They, therefore, who most insist on the value of stated devotions, must never lose sight of that grand, and universal prime truth, that wherever we are, still we are in God's presence; whatever we have is His gift; whatever we hope is his promise; feelings which are commensurate with all time, all places, and limited to no particular scenes or seasons.
"There is in some, in many it is to be feared, a readiness to acknowledge this general doctrine, which miscalled natural religion teaches; but who are far from including in their system the peculiarities, the duties, the devotions of Christianity. These are decorous men of the world, who, assuming the character of philosophical liberality, value themselves on having shaken off the shackles of prejudice, superstition, and system.They acknowledge a Creator of the universe, but it is in a vague and general way. They worship a Being, whose temple is all space;' that is, every where but in the human heart. They put Him as far as possible from themselves. Believing that he has no providential care of them, they feel no personal interest in Him. God and nature are with them synonymous terms. That the creation of the world was His work, they do not go the length of denying; but that its government is in His hands, is with them very problematical." p. 184.
"But too many deive themselves, by imagining that when they have pronounced their prayer, the duty is accomplished with the task, the occult medicine being taken, the charm is to work of itself. They consider
it as a duty quite distinct and unconnected with any other. They forget that it is to produce in them a principle which is to mix with all the occurrences of the day. Prayer, though not intended as as talisman, is yet proposed as a remedy. The effect of its operation is to be seen in assisting to govern the temper, in bridling the tongue, in checking, not only calumny but levity, not only impure, but vain conversation.
"But we have a wonderful talent at deceiving ourselves. We have not a fault for which we do not find an apology. Our ingenuity on this head is inexhaustible. In matters of religion men complain that they are weak, a complaint they are not forward to urge in worldly matters. They lament that their reluctance to pray arises from being unable to do what God, in his word, expects them to do. But is not this virtual rebellion, only with a smooth face and a soft name? God is too wise not to know exactly what we can do, and too just to expect from us what we cannot." p. 204.
"But to return.-Though we must not, in accommodation to the prevailing prejudices and unnecessary zeal against abstinence and devotion, neglect the imperative duties of retirement, prayer, and meditation; yet, perhaps, as prayer makes so indispensable an article in the Christian life, some retired, contemplative persons may apprehend that it makes the whole; whereas prayer is only the operation which sets the machine going. It is the sharpest spur to virtuous action, but not the act itself. The only infallible incentive to a useful life, but not a substitute for that usefulness. Religion keeps her children in full employment. It finds them work for every day in the week, as well as on Sundays.
"The praying Christian, on going into the world, feels that his social and religious duties are happily comprised in one brief sentence-' I will think upon thy commandments to po them.' What the Holy Spirit has so indissolubly joined, he does not separate." p. 271.
Here we take leave of our author; and, in all probability, as she has taken of her readers, a final leave. We are glad to have had this opportunity of bearing testimony to her merits, and of saying, at the same time, that her works are far from deserving unmingled approbation. We have therefore spoken of her with respect, and yet with freedom. We have attempted, and we hope not unsuccessfully, to exhibit a fair outline of her merits and her failings; we have set them side by side, without intentional exaggeration of the one, or designed concealment of the other. And when the balance is fairly struck, we think the christian world will agree with us in the opinion, that, notwithstanding her undoubted claim to the gratitude of the religious community; her reputation is not founded upon qualities that will endure, and that it will pass away when she is gone;-But the good she has done will remain, and she probably cares little for immortality on earth, if she can secure it in Heaven.
Affection's Gift to a Beloved Godchild. By M. H. From the London Edition. Boston, Wells and Lilly. 1819. 16mo. pp. 148.
THIS little book contains a series of letters from a Godmother to a young woman just in the entrance of life, upon many important points of manners and morals. It is not very profound or eloquent, and we might wish perhaps that it were a little more forcible. It would be better too if fewer topics had been treated, that they might be treated more at length, and, of consequence, more instructively. But considered merely as a book of hints, designed to call back to the mind of a young person from time to time an older friend's advice; and accompanied, as such a present is supposed to be and ought to be, by the authority and influence of the friend who gives; it may be of considerable value, and do much good. Such a book is frequently wanted. We give counsel to our young friends, and strive to guide them in the regulation of their hearts and the choice of their employments. But we often wish that we had something more durable to trust to, than the words which pass our lips and are so easily forgotten. We wish that we could be sure of the advice being occasionally recalled to their thoughts. Such a book as this enables us to do it. We put it into their hands, and say to them-the instructions which impress you now, may easily be lost if you be at no pains to keep them. Take therefore this book; it is small, but it contains sufficient to refresh your memory and to revive the good purposes of your heart. Read these letters as if I had written them expressly for yourself. Here is my advice; you may always repeat to yourself what I would say, by looking here. By this book I am present with you-let it have all the influence of my presence.
The letters are twenty three in number. The general topics are, Religion, the improvement of the Mind, the regula tion of the Heart and Affections, and the Accomplishments of life. A few short extracts will enable our readers to judge for themselves of the manner of the writer. The subject of Religion is dismissed much too hastily. It may be said, however, in excuse, that it is always kept in view in the treatment of other topics, and the following passage will show that it is touched with proper seriousness and correct views.
"It is this divine principle which fosters the best sensibilities of our nature, at the same time that it corrects and regulates them; which furnishes the fittest objects for their exercise, and the plainest boundaries for their limitation. Thus you perceive, my dear girl, that religion must be a cheerful principle; for, by regulating the passions, improving the heart, expanding the mind, and softening the disposition, it cannot but produce that most desirable of all results, peace of soul, and a contented mind.
"Thus far I bave endeavoured to enforce its importance, in reference to your temporal happiness. But how will that importance rise in your mind, when you reflect, that by it alone you can hope for that which is to be eternal.
"Seriously reflect, my beloved child, that before we can enjoy happiness, the mind must be prepared to receive it-that there is no transmuting power in death-that unless we habituate the soul to virtue, and to piety here, and endeavour to attain a relish for those enjoyments which we are promised in heaven, even there happiness would be unknown to us.
"The germs of the qualities which are to flourish through the endless ages of eternity, must be cultivated with constant and with tender care, during this scene of our probation.
"Let this reflection sink deep into your mind, and it will be unnecessary for me to urge the subject more. Let the study of the Holy Scriptures be your daily employment, and you cannot fail to find in them delight; but recollect, they are not to be pursued merely to be believed, and remembered, and held in speculative reverence; but as the grand, the only means under divine grace, of producing in your heart that awe of the Almighty, that reverence of his majesty, that delight in his infinite perfections, and of his immutable attributes, and that affectionate knowledge of him, which will, which can alone constitute your rest-your peace -your strength-your consolation.
There is not here the force and eloquence of Bishop Watson's "Address to young Persons"--which is probably by far the best book of this sort; but we are not to judge of its value by such a comparison, but by regarding it, as we said above, as designed to recal former advice and revive the impressions of personal admonition. By the same remark we are to judge of passages like this relating to the regulation of the heart.
"The first step towards resisting temptation, is to regulate our notions; for before we can act virtuously, we must learn to think justly. The excursions of the imagination must be checked, as its restless nature gives it a power dangerous to our virtue and our peace; it delndes us into a false estimation of things, arraying them with fascinations which produce an insatiable desire to possess them; till, as it is most justly observed, "the balance of the soul is lost." Endeavour to keep alive in your mind the sense of its bewildering nature, and suffer it not to overbear your judgment; endeavour to fix the intrinsic value of the objects it presents, and learn to estimate them aright. A habit of recurring to reflection will be one of the strongest barriers against the inroads of error; the most effectual mode of confining your irregular wishes within due bounds. By watching the first motions, you will learn to suppress the first risings of such wishes-you must assert the natural power of reason over the soul, and daily confirm his authority by exercising it on all occasions, however
trivial you may think them: thus will you be insensibly habituated to resist the stronger solicitations which may assail your virtue.
"But my beloved girl will find all these means ineffectual, unless she seeks for internal strength from the FORMER of the heart. Prayer is the high privilege of frail and weak beings; that only can calm when the tumults of thought arise within, that only can bid the soul be still and rest upon its God!"
And of Sensibility--which is one of the finest letters in the book.
"There are so many counterfeits of the quality which forms the subject of my present letter, and it has been in so many instances perverted from its genuine meaning, that the term itself has been brought into disgrace; yet it is in its simple beauty, one of the greatest ornaments of our sex, as well as the source of our most amiable virtues."
"Sensibility, as far as concerns ourselves alone, is liable to equal perversions, and certainly to far superior mischiefs. It may be so misdirected and distempered as to bewilder us in the paths of error, if it does not hurry us to the precipice of guilt. It may be so refined as to render us ill calculated to meet the disappointments, to bear the coarseness and unfeeling judgments, to which our situation in life may expose us."
"Sensibility, to give worth to the character, to be the perfume which sheds its fragrance on our severer virtues, must be sustained by reason, and founded upon principle.--It is an observation of that virtuous and great man, Neckar, that There must be a conductor to the electric fluid, and one is equally wanted to the etherial flame of the imagination.' This observation is perfectly appropriate to the subject under review.
"Study therefore, my dear Girl, to obtain that command over your sensibility, that it may never rise above the pleasing participation in the joys, or the sympathy with, and the active relief of your suffering fellow beings, which I have endeavoured to enforce upon your attention; and you will assuredly feel that internal peace, a greater blessing than which I cannot wish you."
We should not do justice to the writer, if we did not quote part of the conclusion.
"The virtues I have enforced are all perfectly practicable; the employments, the accomplishments equally so, to a diligent and active mind. The Affections will prove their own reward, if with the Passions, they are vigilantly guarded. But I have not deceived you by saying, it requires no effort to be virtuous; all things worthy of attainment, both in the moral and natural world, must be won by attention and diligence.
"I have made religion the basis of my plan, for futile indeed is human reason without its aid! The lessons I have learned in the school of life have been severe; may you, by reading the reflections which have resulted, be warned, without encountering the sorrow experienced by your friendly monitor."