תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

know.”. Are not they the persons who are so positive and dogmatizing, and who will tell what they do know,” even if it breaks up parishes, and turns the world upside down ? But, not to notice a matter so trifling, we proceed to gratify our author, by stating what we do know, at least, on certain important points.

We know, then, that to be shackled by names and opinions, is adverse to free and fair inquiry : and even if Unitarians choose to wear the servile yoke, we choose to think and reason for ourselves, with no authority to bind our consciences but that of God, and no guide in whom we implicitly trust, but the Holy Spirit.

We know, also, that the solution proposed by the author, and taken, as he says, from Lightfoot, is entirely unsatisfactory, and that it cannot for a moment be sustained, either by Scripture or philosophy.

We know, either that our author himself has never read Lightfoot, or that he did not understand him, or that he has wilsully and inexcusably misrepresented him; for, as we shall show hereafter, all that Lightfoot says on John iii. 3, is directly against our author's theory, and favors, by a direct and fair inference, the doctrine of instantaneous conversion. . .

We know, also, that the idea of a sudden conversion is not a modern idea, it is taught fully and explicitly in both the Old and New Testaments. We know, that it has been in all ages a direct inference from the system of real Christians, for this is in all ages the same. .

We knowv, moreover, that there were revivals of religion in the days of the apostles, and that there have been at different times ever since, and that the fundamental principles of a revival have been at all times the same. :.

And finally, we know, that if revivals are now better understood and more systematically conducted than formerly, it is because the church has learned wisdom from the successive attacks of her enemies, and because, as the glory of the latter days draws near, the Spirit of God is guiding the church into all truth, and preparing the way for a full and triumphant display of his power to sanctify and save the children of men. .

Another thing we may safely suggest for our author's consideration, though we cannot say that we“ do know” it, because we cannot decide as to all “ delicate and complicated questions" as it regards our neighbor's intellect, any more than as it regards his “ heart.”. Yet though we do not know, we are inclined to suspect, that in all our colleges and theological seminaries, and among all our clergymen who have been liberally educated, there are at least a few friends of revivals, wbo, as well as our traveller, have read so standard a theological writer as Lightfoot; not that we would by any means imply, that they are so well skilled in languages and

antiquity, as to authorize them to boast of it in public, or to insinuate that they exceed all others in science.

We have now attended to our author's show of argument, (for of the reality there is none,) at least, so far as the subject of conversion is concerned, which is at the basis of all correct views of a revival of religion. Other assertions indeed occur, that revivals, and that sudden conversions are irrational; but they are all mere assertions. Those who are willing to be influenced by names and assertions, those who are too timid to think for themselves, those who are willing and desirous to believe that Orthodoxy is of course irrational and pernicious, those who wish to gratify their excited passions, regardless of sound argument, and cool and candid inquiry, may call such a show of reasoning logical and philosophical; -to all such, this book, we cannot doubt, will be, in the words of the Christian Examiner, a " seasonable gist in the present agitated state of the community, on the subject of religion.”

(To be continued.)

NOTICES OF RECENT PUBLICATIONS.. 1. The Effects of Education upon a Country Village. An Address delivered before the Brighton School Fund Corporation, March 30, 1829, by G. W. BLAGDEN, Pastor of the Evangelical Congregational Society, Brighton, Mass. Pp. 25. :

A few years sincè, a Society was formed in Brighton to raise and manage a fund for “the.establishment and improvement of a Clas. sical School," in that village. The Address before us was delivered in behalf of this Society. The subject was judiciously selected, and, the Christian and the patriot do not need to be told, is of the highest importance. Mr. Blagden has discussed it in an able and interesting manner. His style is perspicuous, chaste and animated; his illustrations are happily, chosen; and the sentiment, throughout the Address, correct.

.“It is a law of providence,” the author remarks in his introduction, “as well as of the Bible, that the first step towards wielding an influence over others, is, to take care of ourselves; and the best and surest way of causing future and distant circumstances to turn to our advantage, is, to avail ourselves of all that may be most favorable in those which already exist. In both cases, however, man is prone to forget this; and it is not until after repeated warnings, pressed upon his mind both by nature and by revelation, that he is. disposed to retire within the chambers of his own bosom, and to use all that may be most favorable in the circumstances of his present situation, in order to become extensively and permanently useful, either to others, or to himself. Whenever he is persuaded to do this, his prospects begin to change ;-he becomes more humbled indeed in his own eyes, but far more exalted in the eyes of others. His influence, though slow and silent in its advancement, gradually and certainly increases ; until he begins to 'wonder at the moral power he is wielding, and is surprised to find himself a living illustration of the truth, that he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.!!! So it is, he adds, with collective bodies of men. The future influence and prosperity of a city depends, mainly, upon the manner in which its internal regulations are conducted; upon the moral character of its municipal officers; 'upon the activity, information, and religious practice of its inhabitants.” The same remarks may be applied to towns ;'!' and “the same remarks may be applied to a country village."'! “The government under which it exists," and“ the circumstances, natural and artificial, by which it is sur-". rounded, doubtless have great influence, and should not be neg- . lected in order to arrive at a satisfactory result" in forming “an opinion concerning the future scenes of prosperity or of adversity awaiting such a' village.” “But these are minor considerations, compared with the moral and intellectual character of its inhabitants.' It is here we are to look for the great, ultimate causes, which are to operate on its future destiny; because it is here that we discover the manner in which all external circumstances will probably affect it. If the internal concerns of such a village be well regwated,-if its leading men are men of moral and intellectual worth,-if its inhabitants are governed by correct principles of conduct; there is little or no danger. Circumstances, however discouraging, will generally bend before the progress of moral and intellectual power. But if the case be otherwise,-if the leading men and the inhabitants generally, be degraded in character and attainments, the place will never rise ;-it will rapidly decline.. No advantages without, however great, can check the certain progress of decay within. . . “In view of such sentiments 'as these," Mr. B. justly remarks, “it cannot be otherwise than a subject of high satisfaction to any benevolent man, to behold a village endeavoring to regulate its internal concerns in such a way as to spread the advantages of education amid all classes of its inhabitants; fore this comprehends all that internal improvement, of the necessity of which he had “just been speaking.'

By education, Mr. B. is careful to say, he “ would be distinctly understood to mean, NOT MERELY THE CULTIVATION OF TIE INTELLECT, BUT ALSO THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE HEART.” The effects of “ spreading the advantages”. of such an education • amid all classes of the inhabitants” of a country village, are illustrated in the following particulars. Such an education ", teaches the inhabitants of a village to avail themselves of their present natural advantages," It “ renders them domestic.” It “cultivates a correct taste in their pleasures." It “regulates their conversation.It“creates in the village a just standard of moral character.It “insures the accession of those who will be willing to labor for its benefit." It "imparts just views of responsibility concerning the influence that is exerted over the young and rising generation." It “preserves men from bigotry." It “tends to purify the government under

which the village exists." Each of these heads, as treated by Mr. Blagden, is rich in instruction. - We have room only for a few extracts, which are fair specimens of the Address.

In the illustration of the effect of education in imparting “just views of responsibility concerning the influence that is exerted over the young and rising generation," the following remarks occur, which we could earnestly.“ wish might be deeply and indelibly impressed upon the mind of every one who is a parent, or a guardian, or an instructer of children, or who, from any circumstances, exerts an influence over the minds of the young.” “Man is the child of imitation. We copy the example of others, from the cradle to the tomb; and the sway which the opinion of those around us exerts over our minds, in every step of our progress through this life, is Fast and astonishing to one who has ever attended to its influence, either over others, or over himself. This love of the praise, and consequent fear of the censure of our fellow men, deters us probably from the perpetration of many a crime, and the practice of many a virtue. This influence, vast as it is, even over the character of manhood, is peculiarly great in its power, and lasting in its effects, over the habits and character of children.

“A child, like a plant, grows up, and expands, and flourishes, and blossoms, and bears fruit, accordingly as it shall be guided, and nourished, and pruned, and guarded, by those to whose care it is submitted. Its little eye is ever open to behold, and its ear quick to hear, and its heart ready to receive the impressions, which every act and word of those who are around, cannot fail to make, in all that they perform or say in its observing presence. I venture to assert, that there is not one in this assembly, who, if he will reflect but a little upon his past existence, cannot recur to habits which may have cost him many a tear, and which originated in some casual circumstance of childhood. Some thoughtless act, sanctioned by the praise and example of a parent, or guardian, or instructer, may lay the foundation of future happiness or misery, in the mind of the child who is beholding him : and when that parent, or guardian, or instructer, shall have ceased to exist, there may be immortal minds still on the earth, for whose actions he shall be at least partly accountable, because they proceeded from principles which were instilled by his example, and perhaps nourished by his care." pp. 15, 16,

“Now the inhabitants of a well educated village do, in some good degree, feel this to be the fact. And, in a proportionable degree, they will be disposed to act as if they believed it.” “The leading men of such a village, as they decide from time to time upon the means of promoting the public weal, will have an eye, also, upon the public morals. And though a certain plan which may be laid before them, might possibly open a larger revenue of wealth to the parents of the place in which they live, they will not fail to ask the queso tion, How will it probably affect the morals of our children? Will it present to them no vicious examples? Will it salute their ears with no pernicious words? Will it impress upon their minds no destroying sentiments? These will be motives which will naturally sway their conduct, and control all their decisions.

VOL. I.

41

“So also in domestic life, the parent of a family, in a village like this, will have an eye to the example which he sets before his children. He may, for instance, feel, as he lifts the cup of spirit to *his lips, that he indeed has moral courage sufficient to resist the temptation of taking too deep a draught ;--that his reason will never be drowned in the flood of intemperance; but when he beholds his children looking at him, as he sips the welcome draught;—when he reflects also, that, ere long, they too may justly claim the privilege of following the example he is now setting them,-a privilege which he never can justly withhold, after he has constantly enjoyed it in their presence ;-when he reflects on these things, he will stop, as he raises the bowl to his lips ;-he will remember that he is a father ;-he will think of the temptations to which his babes will be necessarily exposed, in this world, without adding to them those which originate in his own example;- he will desist from the gratification of his desire ;-he will sacrifice his own passions, however strong, upon the altar of his children's safety. In like manner, when he speaks before his little ones, of those whose characters they should be taught to reverence; such, for instance, as the character of their daily instructers,—although he may discover faults in those characters, even though he may esteem them to be unworthy of much confidence,-even though he may be disposed to remove them from stations of such influence, as they now occupy ;-yet, when he reflects upon the powerful and salutary influence which they exert, eren with all their comparative demerit, he will not be disposed to lessen the degree of that influence over his children, by speaking before them in such a manner as shall lead them, not only to disrespect their characters, but, it may be, the character of of all future persons who shall sustain towards them the same responsible relations.

“The child that is taught by the language of its parent to despise a professing Christian, will, probably, never get over the impression thus made on its childhood, during the lapse of its future existence, in youth, in manhood, and in age. And the child who has been accustomed from infancy, to hear the name of the Lord its God taken continually in vain, will probably never feel a due reverence for the Almighty, in after life; if it does not itself become the victim of that example, which it has so long and so often witnessed." pp. 17, 18.

In illustrating the position that such a village, as he describes, “ tends to purify the government under which it exists,”. Mr. B., in the spirit of an enlightened patriot and Christian, calls upon his hearers to remember, now, and forever, (Oh that the call might be heard and obeyed by every descendant of the Pilgrims, by every citizen of this free and happy country!) “Let it be remembered, now, and forever, that this government and these privileges originated in the religion and education of our pilgrim fathers. They laid the foundation upon which we stand; they bequeathed to us the privileges we enjoy ;--they devised and carried into effect that government, under the shadow of which we are so happy to feel that we are freemen. Would you still stand upon this foundation ?

« הקודםהמשך »