Imágenes de páginas

original or indigenous in the mind of a writer; whereas i is possible, that, if we had access to the same books and men with the author, we should find him to be as great a plagiarist as the rest of us. A man who writes on the other side of the Atlantic is naturally familiar with characters and places to which we are absolute strangers. In such a case, however, there is little necessity for settling the point, whether he is an inventor or borrower. He is original, or new at least, to ourselves; and that, considering the sort of stale and second-hand offerings which are presented to us at home, day after day, ought to satisfy us. It is cheering to escape from the Thames, or the GrandJunction Canal, to the Oronoko, or the Rapids: to see Nature and Art under new aspects: and thus to increase our acquaintance with the images and scenery and incidents of a New World. But, independent of this appearance of novelty, which may be either true or false, the author has his own way of treating almost every subject. Scarcely any thing more effectually destroys the zest with which we read an author, than a constrained anticipation of the manner in which he will treat the points before him: and yet such an anticipation is continually forced upon To no writer can this observation apply less justly than to our American friend. Without appearing particularly to aim at novelty, he is almost always new, being rarely seen in the beaten track or iron railway of the ordinary traveller. He gives us, not only new things, but old ones under new aspects. We are often delighted to see thoughts and inferences, which had indistinctly passed through our minds during childhood without leaving any deep or vivid impression, brought out and exhibited under some new form, which gives them new and permanent hold upon the memory. But our readers may be disposed to ask, whether there are no drawbacks upon this high commendation? I think there are: and shall proceed, with equal fairness, to state them.


In the first place, there is much carelessness as respects the style and composition. The present editor has conceived himself at liberty to correct not only some of those expressions which, though familiar to American readers, would necessarily offend an English ear; but also such others as the author himself would, on revision, have been

sure to correct. Where he has been able himself to be. stow the labor lime-as for example, in the Chapter on the Evidences of Religion-there is little for the mere verbal critic to remove or supply.

Another fault is, the undue extension of some of the arguments, and the too great fulness and minuteness of the illustrations. When he has laid hold of an image or illustration, he is too apt not to let it go till he has squeezed it to death. He quotes, as he in justice may, the Parables of the New Testament, in justification of his mode of teaching by fable and figure; but he seems to forget how lightly and delicately the images are exhibited in Scripture. In almost every parable, that part of the story alone is narrated which is essential to the developement of the lesson. The reader of the New Testament never finds his attention withdrawn by the sign from the thing signified: the metaphor is dropped the moment the lesson is taught, or the duty enforced. Our American author, on the contrary, is often seduced, by his love of painting, to lay so many lines and colours on his canvas, as to make us forget the countenance of which he is giving us the portrait. Few passages present a more striking proof, at once of the graphic power of the artist, and his inclination to abuse his art, even to the exhaustion of his readers, than the picture of the steam-boat, in Chapter XI. Few men could have executed the sketch as closely and vividly; but scarcely any careful writer would have spent as much time and paper on the attempt.

But the most serious defect in the volume is of a kind quite distinct from those to which we have now referred. It is, the too limited introduction, in many of the arguments, of the all-important doctrine of Spiritual and Divine Influence. I have said, the " introduction" of this doctrine; for the author of the following and other similar passages cannot be suspected of not holding the doctrine in its fullest and most Scriptural sense.


The conclusion to which he comes in the next verse is the right one-that God will deliver us, through Jesus Christ our Lord.' We must feel, then, humbly dependent on an influence from above. Let us come daily to our Father in Heaven, praying Him to draw us to the Saviour: -we shall not come, unless He draws us. Let us

feel dependent every day for a fresh supply of Divine Grace, to keep these hearts in a proper frame. It is not enough to express this feeling in our morning prayer. We must carry it with us into all the circumstances of the day. When we are going into temptation, we must say, Lord, hold thou me up, and then I shall be safe:' and we must say it with a feeling of entire moral dependence on God.

[ocr errors]

"We are often in danger of suffering the sense of our moral dependence on God to be weakened by the fear of impairing our sense of guilt. I do not attempt to present any theory by which the two may be shewn to be compatible with each other. We cannot easily understand the theory, but we feel and know that both are true. We all know that we are guilty, for living in sin; and we feel and know that our hearts do not change, simply by our determining that they shall. Since, then, the two truths are clear, let us cordially admit them both. Let us, in the spirit of humility and cordial trust in God's word, believe our Maker, when he says, that He has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth. Let us believe this cordially, however difficult it may be to understand what can, in such a case, be the guilt of the hardened one: and applying the declaration to our own case, let us come before Him, praying that He will turn our hearts to holiness. And at the same time, let us see and feel our guilt, in neglecting duty, and disobeying God, as we do.

"This feeling of entire dependence on the Holy Spirit for moral progress is the safest and happiest feeling which the Christian can cherish. Such weakness as ours loves protection; and if we can cordially make up our minds, that there is a difficulty in this subject which no human powers can surmount, we can feel fully our own moral responsibility, and at the same time feel that our dearest moral interests are in God's care. This feeling is, committing our souls to our Saviour's keeping and care. Were our hearts entirely under our own direct controul, we, and we only, could be their keepers; but if we have given our hearts to Him, God has promised to keep us by His power. He is able to keep us. He has controul, after all, in our hearts; and if we are willing to put our

trust in Him, He will keep us from falling, and present us at last faultless before the Throne of His Glory, with exceeding joy."

such as

Notwithstanding, however, occasional passages these, this fundamental doctrine of Scripture cannot be considered as possessing the prominence in this volume which it deserves. The author, on a variety of occasions, rather assumes than expresses it; and, by so doing, gives, as it appears to me, a complexion to his argument which is likely to offend or distress some conscientious minds. In a multitude of the cases touched upon by the author, his readers approach the subject, either unduly relying upon their own powers, and thus disparaging the influence of the Holy Spirit; or unduly depreciating their own powers, without a knowledge of that higher influence on which the believer is privileged to rely. In either of these cases, it is surely one of the primary duties of every writer, whether upon doctrinal or practical subjects in Theology, to assign to the doctrine of Divine Influence the lofty place which it occupies in the Volume of Truth. In the one case, he has to humble the proud; in the other, to exalt the desponding-in the one, to strike the self-confident from the poor crumbling pedestal he has raised for himself; in the other, to plant the foot of the trembling offender upon the rock raised by the hand of Omnipotence. Let it be remembered, to what an extent the writers of the New Testament, especially, incorporate that doctrine with every practical counsel they deliver to the children of men: how unhesitatingly they proclaim, that "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His:" how they exhort us to think, speak, act, and suffer in the strength of the Spirit: how they teach us, from the lips of Christ Himself, that the presence of the Spirit is more than a compensation for the loss of the bodily presence of the Saviour. I cannot doubt that the neglect of this great doctrine constitutes one of the capital crimes of the professed followers of Christ in the present age. The child who is, from day to day, blindly pursuing its own schemes of indulgence, and knows nothing of the tender but Invisible Hand by which it is supplied with food and sheltered from danger, naturally regards itself as the exclusive author of its own enjoyments. And it is

thus, in the case of those who have formed inadequate conceptions of the work of the Holy Spirit upon the soul. They think, speak, and act in their own strength: they study the Scriptures at the flickering lamp of their own understanding: they attempt to draw both the subjects of Prayer, and its language, from the empty fountains of human intelligence and foresight: they resolve to be religious, as though they themselves could be the artificers of their own salvation; and thus confiding in an arm of flesh, when they might cast themselves upon the strength of Omnipotence, they live and die the miserable exemplars of that moral madness which prompts the soul to trust in its own nothingness, and to distrust the all-sufficiency of its God. How astonishing was the result of the ministration of the word of God, when due honour was done to this truth, and the presence of the Holy Ghost earnestly sought in that “ upper chamber" at Jerusalem! Three thousand persons were at once added to the Church of the Redeemer! And how lovely is the picture afterwards drawn of the persons who were thus transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit! In like manner, at this moment, when the Holy Ghost receives of the things of Christ, and shews them to the soul, how splendid is the trophy which he often binds round the Cross of the Redeemer ! Ask the reclaimed profligate-the penitent, smiling through his tears-the man once shuddering at death, but now exulting as its dark portals open upon him-what it is which infuses his holiness, or inspires his confidence and joy: and he does not hesitate to say, The Spirit of the Living God;' The presence of the Comforter?'"Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord!" But my anxiety for the maintenance of this great doctrine has perhaps withdrawn me too far from the author now before us. It is impossible to question his orthodoxy on this cardinal point; and equally impossible to doubt his intention, that the reader should always assume the necessity of this high and holy influence, where any moral change is to be accomplished: but, considering the character of modern divinity, and the spirit of pride and independence which pervades such large classes of the community, destroying our allegiance to the Spirit, and inflating the soul with empty concep

« AnteriorContinuar »