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NOTICES OF RECENT PUBLICATIONS. 1. Memoir of Herbert Marshall, a Presbyter of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Published in aid of the Missionary cause in the Eastern Diocese. Boston, R. P. & C. Williams, 1828. pp. 126.
This is an interesting little volume, especially to the friends and acquaintances of the lamented Mr. Marshall. We knew him well, and are persuaded that the account here given (making some allowance for the coloring of friendship) is correct. Mr. Marshall was singularly gifted, both by nature and grace; and while able to continue the duties of his profession, was a faithful and successful minister of Jesus. He was called to the endurance of much suffering and trial, through all which he passed with the submission and triumph of a Christian. Our single regret, on laying down the volume, is, that the writer of it felt constrained to make so very much of the change in Mr. Marshall's religious opinions. He was first a minister among the Baptists; but thought proper to renounce his connexion with them, and attach himself to the Episcopalians; and this is referred to, again and again, as furnishing “a sort of demonstration of the correctness of their” particular views. This author's ideas of demonstration must certainly be very different from our own, or he could not speak of the subject in such terms. He must know there are frequent changes, one way and the other, in all denominations of Christians; and if every such change is “a sort of demonstration" of the falsity of the sentiment renounced, and the truth of that embraced, we shall be puzzled to determine what is truth, and what is error. We are ourselves Pedo-baptists in principle and conscience; and we know not that our belief would be at all the more confirmed, if half the Baptists in the country should think proper to join us; or at all the less confirmed, if half the Pedo-baptists should turn the other way.
We give the following as a specimen of Mr. Marshall's private devotional effusions, written on the day of his leaving his family and home to reside for a time in South America, for the recovery of his health.
“ Though without health now for nearly three years, and having been, for most of that period, a lonely wanderer in the world, and passed through dark and trying scenes, and experienced bitter and painful separations; this day, I number among the darkest, most trying, and heart-rending, I have ever experienced. For one to whom home is ever a paradise, to part from it under circumstances the most favorable, and to leave wife and children for the long term of a year, in a world ever changing and uncertain, must be a trial of no trifling lightness. But when all spirit, energy and resolution, are worn out by disease - when every day brings along with it debility, languor, and pain—when a year is in all probability the most, and a few months may, not improbably, be all, he has to pass in the present world,—to tear himself away from his family, and pass that term, either in floating upon the ocean, or in foreign countries, among strangers, with whose language he is unacquainted, and whose customs are nearly barbarous,-is trial, the severity of which is not easily described ;though that, perhaps, of her who is left behind, is scarcely less. Yet Thou, O God! and thou alonc, art able to support and comfort both her who remains, and him who goes! Dark as is the day of parting, Thou canst enlighten it! Heavy and overwhelming as is the atlliction, Thine almighty arm can sustain us uuder it! Widely and long as we may be separated, Thou canst ever be with us, to preserve, support, and prosper us! To Thee, therefore, O God, would we cominend ourselves into thine hands commit soul and body-beseeching Thee, wherever we may be, whatever the trials and sufferings laid upon us-never to leave, or forsake us. But grant that, through the efficacy of thy grace and Holy Spirit, we may improve all the dispensations of thy providence, to thy glory, and our own highest, and immortal interests !”
2. Perils and Safeguards of American Liberty. Address pronounced July 4, 1828, in the Sccond Baptist Meeting-House in Boston, at the Religious Celebration of the Aniversary of American Independence, by the Baptist Churches and Societies in Boston, by JAMES D. KNOWLES, Pastor of the Second Baptist Church. Boston, Lincoln & Edmands. pp. 27.
We are glad of the publication of Addresses like this, if it is only to give currency to the practice of celebrating the day of our national independence in a religious manner; a practice which we hope is to extend, and prevail, till it has essentially modified, if not superseded the more common modes of noticing—we might say, in regard to some instances, of profaning-this memorable day. We are glad also of the publication of this Address, because it contains some important sentiments, very happily expressed. After an introduction, which we must be allowed to think disproportionately long, the author proceeds to speak of several things, which deserve to be regarded as high national advantages, which yet expose us, by the very elevation which they impart, to peculiar dangers. Such are our civil liberty ; “the freedom of the press ;" “the great extent of our country ;” and “the division of our Union into separate States." Against dangers of this sort, our best and only safeguard is the prevailing influence of Christianity. “The Christian religion, exerting its beneficent sway over the minds and hearts of our citizens, furnishes the only moral power, which can preserve this country from destruction.”
“The prevalence of religion would strengthen all the securities of our freedom," as it “is the friend and patron of knowledge;" as it will form the most interesting ties“ between citizens of different parts of the country;" as it will lead Christians to “combine their influence, for the support of pure political principles, and for the election of good men to offices of trust and power;" and finally, as it will secure for us the favor and blessing of Almighty God.
“Let us not think," says Mr. Knowles, - that we are in no danger from the displeasure of God. He has turned many a fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwelt therein. Go, look at the sullen and dismal waters of the Dead Sea, which now cover the fertile valley, where once the cities of the plain flourished like the garden of the Lord. Go, search on the marshy and solitary banks of the Euphrates, for the ruins of the mighty Babylon. Stand on the deserted rocks of Tyre, and ask for the proud city which once deficd the power of Alexander. Visit the place, which the allgrasping Romans adorned with the spoils of a conquered world, and seek among ruined temples and broken arches for the monuments of their power. Repair to the city of God, and see the crescent of Mahomet, gleaming over the sacred mount, where once stood the magnificent temple of Jehovah. And look at the wretched Jews, the miserable victims of Turkish oppression, outcasts in
the very city where David and Solomon reigned, and forbidden, on pain of death, to approach the spot where once their fathers worshipped God. Look at all these melancholy proofs of the mutability of human things, and learn the danger of offending God. It was his wrath, which destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah ; which made Babylon a place for the bittern and the serpent; which swept away Tyre, and left her rocks for the fisherman to spread his nets on; which huuled the magnificent Rome from her height of grandeur and power, and made Judea and her children a hissing and an astonishment through the earıh. Truly, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Great and flourishing as our country is, he can bring her down to desolation. He has many ministers of his vengeance; and when he bids them empty their vials on the earth, the proudest cities and the most powerful nations become as the chaff before the whirlwind.
“Let us, then, sincerely repent of our sins, and contribute all in our power to spread the influence of Christianity through our land. Let us lend our aid to check the sway of vice; remembering that “righteousness exalteth a nation, while sin is a reproach to any people. Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. Salvation will the Lord appoint for walls and bulwarks." Then will our beloved country be great and happy ; and her increasing millions will enjoy the blessings of a secure and tranquil freedom, till,
Wrapt in flames, the realms of ether glow,
3. The Influence of the Christian Ministry. A Sermon delivered at the Ordination of Rev. Benson C. Baldwin over the NorwichFalls Church, (Con.) January 31, 1828, by Rev. John Nelson, of Leicester, Mass. Boston, T. R. Marvin. pp. 22.
This is a sensible and well written Sermon on “The influence of the Christian Ministry ;" describing “the nature of this influence; the proper sphere of its operation; the circumstances which are necessary to render it powerful and efficacious; and some of its important results.” In defining the proper sphere of ministerial influence, the preacher well observes,
"Men are not called to the sacred office, in order that they may gain a liveli. hood, or make a figure in the world. They are not called to it as a mere appendage to a well organized society, to take a place in the funeral procession, to get up a Sabbath's entertainment, or, for the sake of companionship with the affluent and the refined. No ;—they are invested with the high office of ambassadors for Christ. Their business is, to negociate peace and reconciliation between offending creatures and the offended majesty of heaven; to lead the thoughtless and the unbelieving to a knowledge of salvation ; to point the perishing sinner to the heavenly paradise, and to lead the way by an example, in which lives and breathes the spirit of Christianity.”
“ The principal aim of the Christian minister should be, 10 win souls to Christ and to heaven. This is the paramount object that should fire his soul, and call into action his strongest energies, and engage his best powers. Of course, then, there are some things which are admired in other men, that cannot be reckoned among the prominent excellencies of the minister. It is, in my opinion, poor praise to say of him that he is the best farmer, or the best politician that can anywhere be found. Such was not Paul, and such can no man be, who is duly intent on his Master's work. We are not formed with sufficient capacities to excel in everything ; nor has the minister, amidst the multiplied avocations of this busy and excited age, time for everything. Having, therefore, been called to the most responsible office on earth, let him be content with well discharging its duties, and at the same time, let him be content with nothing less."
4. Christians should Support and Defend the Truth. A Sermon delivered March 12, 1828, at the Ordination of Rev. Asahel Bigelow, as Pastor of the Orthodox Congregational Church in Walpole, Mass., by JONATHAN BIGELOW, Pastor of the Centre Church, Rochester. Boston, T. R. Marvin. pp. 20.
The writer of this Sermon shews himself a bold and able defender of the Gospel. His text is 2 Cor. xiii. 8. “We can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth." His plan is to shew “first, what Paul meant by the truth ; secondly, what we can do for it; and thirdly, to present motives to induce us to do all we may for its support and defence.”
In shewing what we can do for the truth, which to us is the more interesting part of the Discourse, he observes, “we can cordially believe it ;" “ we must practise it ;" we must “make a public profession of it, and form ourselves into churches ;" “we are to choose, ordain, and support pastors, who will, without reserve or disguise, earnestly, clearly, and fully, before all persons, and on all suitable occasions, preach the truth—and to withdraw ourselves from the ministrations of all others ;” and “we must, with firm reliance upon God, use all means, and seize all opportunities, to promote revivals of religion.” Speaking of the duty of churches to provide pastors, who will faithfully preach the truth, Mr. Bigelow has the following just remarks :
“Dependant as they are upon the congregation, for the support of their pastor, their greatest solicitude too frequently is, to select a pastor of popular talents, eloquent and refined, and who, withal, will be very prudent in preaching the truths of Christianity, lest he should offend those who do not believe, or do not love the truth; instead of making it their first care, to select one who will be honest in his master's cause, and who will, with the eloquence of a soul imbued with the love of the truth, preach it so as to be neither mistaken nor misunderstood.
" Many churches, from fear of causing division in the societies connected with them, or to gratify a few influential men, have consented to the settlement of pastors who preach nothing clearly, or what is believed by the majority, a departure from the Gospel. The consequence has been, that those churches have declined in piety--become erroneous in sentiment–been diminished in numbers-revivals have ceased, and the Spirit of God has departed ;-next, their creed has been changed, or thrown aside as a pernicious instrument calculated to retard the progress of the age,-a “cord to bind the conscience and posterity, hand and foot ;"—and the scene has been closed by the voice of unblushing error, crying, “ peace, peace"-" I know it shall ultimately be well with the wicked”!
We see much to commend in this excellent Sermon; and yet we should be as well pleased, if in some parts it breathed a more tender spirit. It is not too plain, or too bold, or too decided; and yet there is a sort of defiance about it, with which we cannot altogether sympathize-which rather repels and hardens the unbeliever, than attracts and melts him, and prepares him to receive the truth.
5. A Sermon delivered at Lunenburg, December 3, 1827, by David Damon, at the close of his Ministry in that town. Lancaster, F. and J. Andrews. 1828. pp. 22.
The greater part of this closing address of Mr. Damon to his people is occupied in stating what he had preached, and what he had not preached, during the period of his ministry. And the short of it is, that he had not preached evangelical religion, but had preached Unitarianism.
We know nothing of the past history or the present state of things in Lunenburg, or of facts which led to the dismission of Mr. D., any farther than these are incidentally disclosed in the progress of this Sermon. Some facts however are disclosed here, which, if we mistake not, may be generally interesting and instructive.
It appears that in “ former days," within the memory of some now living, the “ ancient and spacious temple”, in Lunenburg“ was generally filled with worshippers, and not unfrequently to overflowing, on the return of the Sabbath.” This was in the good old times of Massachusetts, before the present alleged reformation, from Orthodox errors and abuses to Unitarian light and purity, commenced. For reasons not assigned, when Mr. D. was settled, thirteen years ago, he found "the town divided,” and the Congregational society somewhat “reduced.” Many “expected, however, at the time of his settlement, “that the people would again gather round the old altar, where there fathers delighted to worship;' but these, it is acknowledged, “have been disappointed.” The ministry of Mr. D. has been followed with “ apparently small success." He has “ had great occasion of discouragement, through the neglect of many in regard to a uniform attendance upon public worship.” “The number of baptisms has been comparatively small, and the addition to the number of the regular communicants not equal to the diminution by death and removals.” The church and society are in “ a reduced state," and although the fault is attributed to "the spirit and tendency of the times,” “it has frequently seemed to me,” says Mr. D., “that there must have been some fault in me, other than those of which I am conscious, that I have not been made instrumental of producing some more visible good among you." p. 16.
We wonder not that it seems strange to Mr. D. that his ministry at Lunenburg has terminated as it has. From the evidence of talent afforded by this Sermon (and this is our only means of knowing him) his want of success would seem strange to us, were it not for a single consideration : But it does not now. We can easily account for it, without blaming “the times.” We see not how a Unitarian minister can ever be, in the best sense of the word, successful. We see not how in ordinary circumstances, he can give to his discourses interest enough to keep a society alive and together. Novelty; to be sure, may excite attention for a time; or opposition may provoke to zeal; or the force of education, or the example of other denominations, may produce an attendance on the forms of religion. Inci. dental advantages too, such as voice, and manner, and style, and social intercourse, may do something for a season. But we see not how a Unitarian minister can, through a course of years, give interest enough to his discourses, his preaching, to keep a society from going to decay. We see not how he can keep his people, or many of them, from receiving the impression, “If what you tell us is true, we do not much need you—we can do well enough without you—and we will not be at the expense of supporting you, or at the trouble of attend