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S. The Spirit of Prayer. By Hannah More. Selected and Compiled by Herself, from various Portions, exclusively on that Subject, in her published Volumes. Boston, Cummings Hi ilia rd & Co. 1826.
We are glad to see republished this portion of the writings of one of the most popular and venerable religious authors of the age. We are aware that the sentiment of admiration for her works has not been felt without exception; and that while one class has carried it to an almost idolatrous excess, another has found little in them to affect or improve. This may be in no small degree accounted for from the peculiar faults of her composition, her dulcia vitia, which form its charm with many, but which are offensive to more. Yet her great devoutness of mind, her high standard of christian attainment, her zealfor virtue, her intimate acquaintance with the human mind and heart, and her consistent, persevering devotion of her fine powers, through a long life to the instruction and improvement of others, demand and ensure for her the respect and gratitude of all. In her present advanced period of life, this is the last publication, which she can probably superintend. It consists of selections from those parts of her various works which treat of the subject of prayer and the cultivation of a devotional spirit, arranged under appropriate titles. Perhaps no portions of her works have been esteemed more valuable by her admirers; and they will be gratified at finding these scattered passages and chapters collected under one cover.
9. A Discourse delivered at the Opening of the Christian Meeting House in Boston, at the corner of Summer and Sea Streets, Dec. 29, 1825. By Simon Clough, Pastor of the First Christian Society in the City of New York. Boston. I. R. Butts & Co. 1826.
The Christian denomination, so numerous in some parts of the country, has for many years had one Society in Boston; and recently has erected, principally, we understand, through the instrumentality of one zealous member, a spacious and commodious house of worship. It is gratifying to witness this mark of its prosperity, not only because it is desirable that every class of believers should have full scope for the display of its doctrines, but because this class, being zealously devoted to the instruction of the people, and at the same time, exemplary advocates of Christian liberty, cannot fail of a good influence upon that portion of the community. A sermon like this of Mr Clough would have good influence any where. It is a strong and ardent defence of Christian Liberty, the love of which, Mr
Vol. in.—No. Ii. 21
Clough tells us, has always characterized this denomination. He defines what he understands by this terra, illustrates from history the practices which have been inconsistent with it, states the obstacles with which it has to contend, and the reasons which exist for expecting its final triumph. He exhibits good sense and just thinking, and deserves great credit for the manner in which the subject is treated. The following passage will serve as a specimen of the discourse, and at the same time present the feelings of the denomination.
'The Christian denomination, with which I have the honor of being connected, have seen the consistency, and acknowledged the propriety, of these great principles of religious liberty, and have given the world a practical illustration of them, by founding upon them the churches that nave been gathered by their instrumentality, and making them the principles of action in the administration of Church government. The scriptures of truth are considered the only written rule of faith and practice among us, and each individual member is left at liberty to exercise and enjoy the right of private judgment, both as it relates to doctrine and practice. The only necessary prerequisite to become a member of a Christian church, is the christian character, and the only qualification necessary to secure and perpetuate that membership is a life of piety and devotion. We maintain that God is the sole arbiter of conscience, and that no devoted christian is, or can be accountable to any human tribunal on earth for believing the doctrines, and obeying the precepts of the gospel. That all such tribunals as are invested with dominion over the faith and practice of others are popish, tyrannical and antichristian, and that where they are established, they must become the bane of christian liberty. Churches have a right, when an individual member renounces the christian faith, becomes contentious, introducing divisions into the body, or is immoral in his conduct, to put such a member away; but not for exercising the right of private judgment,—for this equally belongs to all.' pp. 15,16.
10. A Discourse, delivered in Charleston, S. C. on the 21st of Nov. 1825, before the Reformed Society of Israelites, for Promoting true Principles of Judaism, according to its Purity and Spirit, on their first Anniversary. By Isaac Harby, a member. 8vo. pp. 40. Charleston, A. E Miller, 1825.
The formation of such a society, as that before which this first anniversary discourse was delivered, is one, and a very striking evidence of the universal tendency of the age to improvement. Even among the Jews, it seems, attempts are making at religious reform.
'Our desire,' says Mr Harby, in stating the designs of his society,' is to yield every thing to the feelings of the truly pious Israelite; but to take away every thing that might excite the disgust of the well-informed Israelite. To throw away Rabbinical interpolations ; to avoid useless repetitions; to read or chant with solemnity ; to recite such portions of the Pentateuch and the Prophets, as custom and practice have appointed to be read in the original Hebrew; but to follow such selections with a translation in English, and a lecture or discourse upon the Law, explanatory of its meaning, edifying to the young, gratifying to the old, and instructive to every age and every class of society, p. 6.
Again ;—' It is but little we demand;—to abolish the profane offerings and not insult us with bad Spanish and Portuguese; to admit an English discourse, explanatory of the Parasah, or portion of the Law appointed to be read; to discard the idle comments of the Rabbins, which have no connexion with the ancient Hebrew worship; to be more dignified and more emphatic in reading, or singing the effusions of the Psalmists and the Prophets; and to select the sublimer portions of these (appropriated to the day) and such other prayers as taste and piety can approve, to be said or sung in the English language. We wish to abstract, not to add—to take away whatever is offensive to the enlightened mind; but to leave in its original grandeur whatever is worthy to be uttered by man, and to be listened to by the Deity.' p. 8.
These are praiseworthy objects; and, as friends to what is truly rational in whatever shape it presents itself, we cannot but wish they may be attained. The 'Discourse' next glances at the history of the Jews since the destruction of their temple, and contrasts their comparatively degraded condition in Europe with their happier lot under the free and equalising institutions of the United States. The author has his occasional flings at Christians, to be sure ; but his performance is the production of a mind of considerable cultivation, and abounds with just and noble views of civil and religious liberty, which it might be well for Christians themselves more generally to embrace. The following sentences are pregnant with volumes of practical wisdom, which we recommend to our Societies for the Conversion of the Jews, and Christians generally to read.
'As enlightened ideas are the result of Freedom, so bigotry seems inevitably to spring from persecution and slavery. Had the Jews been treated with justice and humanity ;—had the character of modern Rome been as tolerant on the subject of Religion as that of ancient Rome—the tenacity with which the Israelites adhered to their ancestral customs might gradually have relaxed, and they would, in a measure, have melted into the common mass. Nothing causes men more to resemble each other, and to feel for each other, than Equality Op Riohts. Prejudices vanish when we are not molested for them. But oppression naturally begets hatred.' pp. 24.
We wish we could say as much for the rhetorical excellencies of this piece, as we have for its merits in other respects. But it is written in a style not a little too gorgeous, displays in its periods too much of eastern magnificence, for these colder and less imaginative regions.
11. Hints to Parents, in two parts. Part I, on the Cultivation of Children. Part II, Exercises for Exciting the Attention, and Strengthening the Thinking Powers of Children, in the Spirit of Pestalozzi's Method. From the Third London Edition. Salem. Whipple & Lawrence. l2mo. pp. 72.
The fault we might find with some of the details of the plan of domestic education marked out in this little work, will be rendered wholly harmless by attending to the frequent cautions it contains, that it is not the forms, not the strict letter, but the Spirit of the system, which is to be regarded; and we therefore unreservedly recommend these ' Hints,' in the unpretending way in which they present themselves, to the consideration of every parent. What is the great object of the work, and in what a sound reflection it had its origin, may be gathered from the two following sentences.
'The aim of Pestalozzi, is to excite in Parents the desire to take advantage of the invaluable opportunities afforded in the Domestic Circle, for fostering the infant mind in the simple, pure, and artless way which nature has traced; to inspire them with a sense of their Duty, and of the widely extended and important consequences resulting from the neglect or the fulfilment of this duty.
'From an early domestic developement of hand, Head, and Heart, the happiest results may be expected.' p. 3.
The Present State and Prospects of Unitarian Christianity in Calcutta. We are happy to be able to communicate to the friends of enlarged and liberal views of Christianity, a few facts concerning the present state, and the prospects of our religion, in Calcutta, which, we think, cannot fail to be received with great interest, and to awaken the zeal among us, which has too long been dormant, that should be felt in the cause of extending as widely as possible the knowledge and blessings of the gospel of our salvation.
In a ' Brief Memoir,' which we have just received, ' respecting the establishment of a Unitarian mission in Bengal,' it is said, 'When the powerful influence, which the christian religion is fitted to exercise for the improvement and happiness of those who cordially embrace it, is duly considered, it cannot but be matter of serious regret, and disappointment, that the most zealous exertions of missionaries for its propagation in India have hitherto
been attended with very inadequate success. This subject has of late, more than usual, engaged the attention of the christian public; and the failure is ascribed both to the mode in which missionary labors have been conducted, and to the form in which Christianity has been presented to the natives. Not the intelligent and learned, but the rude and ignorant, have been made the first and principal objects of missionary instruction ; and they have been taught doctrines, which, whether true or false, stagger the natural feelings, and uninstructed reason, of mankind; and which, therefore, seem the least adapted to begin with, for the purpose of making a favorable impression upon minds, already preoccupied with the tenets of a different religion. On the ordinary principles which regulate human conduct and opinion, it would have been much more difficult to account for the success of such labors, than it now is to assign causes for the want of success in them.
'Under the firm conviction that the evidences, the doctrines and the precepts of the christian religion, have their foundation in the rational and accountable nature of man, and are as convincing as they are salutary to all who are capable of comprehending their import and willing to submit to their power, an attempt has been made, within the last few years, to obtain means for establishing a Unitarian mission in Bengal; and, by the labors of Unitarian missionaries, for diffusing the knowledge, and inculcating the practice of christian truth and duty, in a mode and form free from the objections that have just been stated. The establishment of such a mission would include, First, the erection of a chapel for worship and preaching in the English language, as the means of exhibiting the principles, uniting the affections, and concentrating the exertions of its supporters. Secondly, the delivery of regular and familiar lectures in the native languages, and in the native parts of the city; not with an immediate view to pToselytism, but for the purpose of exciting, extending and directing, a spirit of inquiry upon moral and religious subjects, among the well-informed and influential members of the native community. Thirdly, the promotion of native education, with an especial view to improve both the moral and the intellectual character of the pupils. And, lastly, the preparation and printing of such books, as may appear to be required in the different departments of labor.
'A mission on these principles, and with these objects, has not yet been established in British India. Almost all that has been attempted, in regard to it, is, to obtain means for this purpose, and to create an interest in its accomplishment. The fol