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commend the whole of this part of the work to our readers, as furnishing a favorable specimen of the author's powers of analysis and statement. It affords a very good example, also, of that exceedingly common, though. little suspected, fallacy in all disquisitions of this kind, by which men mistake those abstractions and generalizations, which it is convenient or necessary for the mind to make and clothe in words for purposes of intercommunication, for real, substantial things. Thus what are called the “virtues” or “graces” are often spoken of as if they had a separate existence, and were not merely dispositions of the soul carried out into their appropriate manifestation. By a similar use of language, it is common to speak of man as a civil, social, moral, or religious being. What volumes of mysticism have been dreamed about an interior and exterior life," "faith and works,” the “internal and external man.” But this distinction is entirely arbitrary. It is one of man's making for convenience of language.
It is, moreover, altogether verbal. We have no objection to it, when this is understood. It is convenient, proper enough, and indeed necessary for purposes of minute accuracy, in moral disquisitions. But still it should always be kept in mind, that no man exists or can exist in a divided or fragmentary state, now in one portion of himself, and now in another portion of himself, or can commission these different portions to do, or forbear to do, certain things. But what a man does, is the act of the man, and of the whole man, and, the act being his, it must take its character from the motive which prompted the act. Is not this extremely plain? Why then will men, sensible and farsighted enough in common affairs, overlook this palpable fact ? And why especially will moral writers, highly judicious in other respects, permit themselves to be deluded with merely verbal distinctions here ? And, until we learn to keep this simple statement clearly and constantly in view, all our discourses about man and duty will be limited, embarrassed, and confused. Take, for example, the virtues or “ graces” of faith, hope, and love, or any other of the lovely sisterhood ; they are not, as, judging from the common language in respect to them, we might suppose, distinct and substantial existences; they are not qualities which can be superinduced upon a man's soul, laid upon or taken off from his character ; but they are
modes of conduct,” or “styles of acting,” of the man himself, considered as one being, feeling and acting in a certain
It is one great merit of the volumes before us, that this fact is kept constantly in view, and they would be well worth studying on this account alone.
There is yet another important consideration, which must not be neglected when we say that it is the object of man, regarded as a subject of this “ kingdom of God," to fulfil, faithfully and well, all the duties, little as well as great, of the place and station, in which, in the scheme of Providence, he finds himself placed. These duties, as has been already said, are to be done with all his powers and capabilities, with his entire nature. Now as he is essentially, emphatically, and characteristically a religious being, so it is his primal duty, not, as the common mistake is, to separate this part of his nature from the rest, and act in reference to it solely, but to do all he does, and be all he is, under the full influence of religious principles and sentiments. He should give to them their proper place in the scheme of life ; and, as their proper place is the highest, so they should always be the ascendant motives of his will, and rule with an unquestioned sway over his whole conduct.
But it is evident, that a being, thus inherently and peculiarly religious, ought, in accordance with this nature, to perform some services which are directly expressive of his religious sentiments and feelings, and of the connexion, in which these place him, with their Author and Object. What are these ? What are their nature, value, and comparative place among other duties? These questions require to be answered, since it might otherwise be inferred from what has just now been said, that, provided a man fulfils the duties of his station in life, and fulfils them in a religious spirit, there is no need of any other Religious Services, and that they may, and indeed ought to be dispensed with, as idle or useless. The whole subject of those Services, commonly considered as strictly religious, is thus brought into view, and is treated by the author with great good sense, discrimination, and liberality. We must at this stage of our remarks confine ourselves to one or two suggestions, which seem to us to be particularly worthy of being noted.
It is common, even among enlightened men, and with writers of no humble name, such, for example, as the Author of the “Light of Nature” and Zollikofer, to regard these Religious Services as important and obligatory solely on ac
count of the good effects which they are adapted to produce on those who perform them. In fewer words they are to be regarded as means only. This is considered, and very properly, as we think, a low and inadequate view of the subject. These “ Divine or Religious Services," as they are called, are, it is true, means, and extremely valuable in reference to their effects; but this is not all that is true of them. They are proper and valuable also as direct expressions of the peculiarly high and nobly endowed nature, which we possess as religious beings; and he who neglects these services, therefore, not only neglects an important method of religious improvement, but he fails in the discharge of a duty, which, independently of all such effects, is imposed upon him by his religious nature. Though he avail himself, then, of all other means conducive to a pure and holy life, yet, if he neglect to cultivate and express, by religious exercises, his religious sentiments, he neglects to act according to the highest, sublimest, and most characteristic part of the nature God hath given him. He fails in his imperative duty as a pious man ;— he does not act as a religious being ought to act. We commend this thought to the serious attention of our readers, and refer them to the work before us for many valuable applications of it, which our limits will not permit us to quote. We should be glad, too, to cite our author's remarks on the obligation of Public and Social worship, and his summary of the whole subject, for the especial benefit of that large and, we regret to say, increasing number of persons, in all our religious communities, who think it well enough for society at large, that God should be honored in Christian forms; and that, in consequence, it is expedient that churches should be built, and their doors be opened one day in seven; and that the minister, always and in all cases, whatever may betide him, should stand up in his place; but who, thinking themselves too good to need to be made better, and too wise to need to learn from such services, lend to them no constant, cordial, and efficient coöperation, and satisfy their consciences on this subject by excuses too frivolous to pass current in social life for a neglect of the slightest social courtesy.
There are some admirable remarks, too, as we think, “on the forms most suitable to religious services;” and they are particularly valuable as coming from an officiating minister of the Church of Scotland, to which we suppose the author particularly alludes in the following extract; and are, as we think,
equally applicable to the prevailing forms of Congregational worship among ourselves.
“Hence the services of some of these churches, having laid aside all the ceremonial character which in former times had gained such universal ascendency, have become remarkable for the baldness and tameness of their devotional rites, and men seek rather to model their understandings to certain abstract modes of thought, than to awaken or elevate their devotional feelings, when they frequent the place of public worship. It ought, however, to be kept in mind, that it is chiefly as a sentimental being, that man is fitted for the exercises of religion, — and that hence any form of worship which has no tendency to awaken his imagination or to expand his feelings, is defective in the very purpose for which all devotional exercises have been established.”
Nothing is clearer to our own minds, than that our public religious services might be greatly improved, by changing their literal, naked, bald character, for one which is more suggestive of devotional feelings. But we dare not venture on this subject beyond the limits of a single sentence.
Our remarks on the third and fourth Parts of the author's “ Plan,” we must defer to the next Number.
Art. IV. - Scenes and Characters illustrating Christian Truth. No. V. The Backslider. By
* * *. Boston : James Munroe & Co. 1835. 18mo. pp. 144.
As the essence of Christianity consists in its influence within, as it is “there that it must live or bear no life,” there is no mode by which the heart can be more deeply affected with its truths, than by living examples of their power and beauty, exhibited in human character and conduct. Next to this are such fictions as the one before us, which, by their faithful and graphic representations of human nature, affect us for the time like reality.
« The Backslider" is intended to illustrate the influence of Christianity on minds differently constituted, — particularly on the two principal characters of the story. In Anna Hope, we see its effect on a mind naturally well balanced. The mode
in which it developes and strengthens the understanding, elevates and enriches the feelings, governs without enslaving the judgment, confirms the authority of conscience, and above all imparts a moral courage and constancy, altogether higher and more effective than any which could be derived from mere human sources, (whether it be of reason, stoicism, or animal spirits,) is here naturally and beautifully set forth. The just measure, the simplicity, the reality of her virtue are revealed, as it were, not in a happy picture, but in the real specimen. In Walter, we see the good seed scattered on the thin soil; and it is the aim of the writer to show where the lack of root is, — to bring to light those secret agents which insidiously undermine the fair promise of ardent and ingenuous natures, and against which, therefore, it behoves such natures to be especially on their guard. The besetting sins of Walter's mind are vanity and the love of pleasure; and the gradual operation of these, in bringing down to the level of the worthless, a character which seemed destined, and was by the possessor himself fully believed to be destined, to overtop all around him, is finely delineated. An ardent and intellectual character, like his, is peculiarly susceptible of the inroads of skepticism; especially when it assumes the specious guise of reason, free inquiry, and universal philanthropy ; and we are impressed with the responsibility, which the inquiring mind incurs, of keeping fully in view its own fallibility, and the truth of those first principles of moral and religious faith, which are indestructible and conservative elements of human nature. Wbile we feel sure, that such a character as Anna's would stand firm amid the same temptations under wbich Walter's had fallen, we are not led into the erroneous conclusion that this is wholly to be ascribed to constitutional difference. We perceive that it is because Anna has obeyed the command to watch and pray, that the enemy finds her prepared and able to resist attack, — because she has sought the aid of the spirit, that its saving influences have been vouchsafed to her, because she had less confidence in herself, and more reliance on God, than Walter had, that she too did not fall away in her hour of trial; and we are left with the conviction that this duty of self-distrust, and sense of spiritual need, were as much within the reach of Walter's mind as of Anna's, and would have saved him from the ruinous course into which he was drawn.