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the achievements of these dignified men, suddenly expiring, if his thoughts turned to the virtues, sentiments, and actions, of the Apostles of Jesus Christ." (p. 209.) The practical result of such observations Mr. Foster thinks should be the utter condemnation of classical antiquity, so far as it is implicated in this charge. But this is surely too harsh a judgment. For many reasons, which we have not room to specify, the ancient authors ought not to be thus severely reprobated. We would rather say, let them be read with caution, under the direction of an intelligent and religious tutor; and let the false principles and sentiments which they contain, be exposed and corrected as they occur, as Milton advises in his Tractate on Education, by a reference to the Holy Scriptures.
sion-that is, by the absence of that
In the next letter, Mr. Foster proceeds to make some observations, with relation to the same object, on modern polite literature. He contines his view chiefly to that of our own country, and to those writers who are professedly believers in Christianity. This school is composed of poets, moral philosophers, historians, essayists, and the writers of fiction. Now, says the author, if the great majority of these authors have injured and still injure their pupils in the most important of ail their interests, it is a very serious consideration, both in respect to the ac countableness of the authors, and the final effect on their pupils. Mr., Foster maintains that they are guilty of this injury*.
In the first place, he considers that the alleged injury has been done, to a great extent, by omission, or rather it should be called exclu* In a note on this part of his subject, Mr. Foster brings a heavy charge against the late Sir William Jones, for writing his Hymns to the Hindoo Gods. Though we think that there is some foundation for
this charge, yet it seems to us rather un
fairly urged, as those productions were evi
dently intended by their accomplished author, merely as illustrations, like many of his Dissertations of the Hindoo Mythology, and to be serviceable in the same way.
Another article, says our author, in which the Anti-Christian tendency of a great part of our productions of taste and genius is apparent, is the style of consolation administered to distress, old age, and death. We wish that our limits would permit us to extract some passages from this part of the essay, which are remarkably just and beantiful; but we must hasten to the remainder of it. In the last letter, Mr. Foster continues his enumeration of particulars in which our polite writers differ from the sacred
records. The instances which he mentions are the following: viz. their opinions respecting the moral condition of mankind; redemption
by Jesus Christ, where any allusion to it occurs, and the Anti-Christian motives to action which they more than tolerate, particularly that of the love of glory. Some observations are then added respecting the several classes of the authors thus censured. We trust our readers will excuse our not inserting the remarks which follow on some of the historians, and on our two celebrated essayists, Addison and Johnson. We wish that the censures which they contain on the latter writers were unfounded in truth; but we cannot avoid concurring in the justness of them.
The poets, with two or three splendid exceptions, are next subjected to the censure of our author, who after a few just observations on novel writers, thus concludes this singularly able and ingenious essay.
At the close of this review of our fine writers, it appears to me a most melancholy consideration that so many accomplished
and powerful minds should have been in a world, where the noblest cause which that
world ever saw was inviting their assistance, and that this cause should have vainly sought even their neutrality. They are gone into eternity with the guilt resting on them, of having employed their genius, as the magicians their enchantments against Moses, to counteract the Saviour of the world.
"Under what restrictions then ought the study of polite literature to be conducted? I cannot but have foreseen that this question must return at the end of these observations; and I acknowledge, that I am not prepared to answer it. But neither am I
required. It is enough for the purpose of this essay to have illustrated the fact, that the grand mean of mental cultivation is one of the causes of aversion to Christianity; and if you, my dear friend, or any other person who may read these letters, shall be convinced that the representation is júst, it will be the concern of individual judgment to consider and adopt the needful precautions against the pernicious influence. I trust it will cogently press conscience, that nothing less than the most serious exertion of that judgment will be justice to so great an interest." (p. 296, 297.)
Having finished our examination of these volumes, we have only to
add a few general observations on the whole; which must, however, be very brief, as we have already extended our review to an unusual length. The view which we have given of Mr. Foster's sentiments on the different subjects of his essays, will enable our readers to form a tolerably correct judgment of them; and the remarks which we have occasionally made, sufficiently express our own opinion respecting them.
They are, as we before observed, the production of a man of original genius, and abound with the most vigorous and impressive sentiments on some highly interesting and important subjects. The author is evidently one who has not only thought for himself, but in a manner very different from what is commonly met with in the present day. He has taken a comprehensive and scrutinizing survey of human nature, and is well acquainted both with its strength and weakness. His pow ers of discrimination both with respect to characters and opinions, are particularly striking, and the force and energy of his thoughts, and the brilliancy of his imagination, have enabled him both to expose error, and to recommend truth, in a very convincing and attractive
We should suppose, from the general tenor of these volumes, that they are very much the result of personal reflection and experience. The author seems to have taken a wide range as to speculative opinion, and to have conducted his researches with a bold and independent spirit. But it is truly gratifying to a Christian Observer, to perceive that he is now established on the terra firma of Scriptural truth; and that his object in the essays before us is to recommend and enforce it upon others. Though we could have wished, that Christian principles, wherever they were introduced, had been somewhat more plainly and explicitly stated, we cannot but think, that this publication may have a very beneficial effect, in exciting the attention of
many persons of an intellectual and literary character to just and serious views of religion. The last essay is calculated to be particularly useful for this purpose, by removing many prevailing prejudices against the more peculiar doctrines of Christianity.
On the other hand, in addition to the particular objections which we have already made, we must further observe, that Mr. Foster is apt to express himself upon a variety of points in too strong and unqualified a manner. We have no doubt how ever, that this arises chiefly from the force with which things strike his mind, and from the liveliness of his imagination; and that it is an error which will be gradually corrected. There is also a general appearance of a feeling of contempt for persons of a lower intellectual order, as well as of a spirit of satire; both which stand opposed to Christian humility and charity, and therefore require to be chastised and subdued.
The stile of these essays seems to deserve some notice. It is generally nervous, animated, and eloquent; and it abounds with fine and happy illustrations: but it is also, occasionally obscure, inflated, and rhe torical. The sentences are frequently too long and involved, and the expressions are sometimes quaint and inaccurate. The stile indeed, is by no means that which is appropriate to letters or essays, as it is defective in those points which are peculiarly characteristic of that species of writing,-namely, simplicity, perspicuity, and ease. These are faults, however, of a comparatively trivial nature; and they are such as a little attention may easily correct. We trust that a second edition of this work, which we understand is already in the press, will leave but little room for objection in any material point. In the mean time, we have no hesitation in saying, that we think it very highly creditable to the genius, talents, and principles of the author, whom we again hail with sincere CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 50.
pleasure, as a distinguished ally in the cause of moral and religious truth: and we can certainly recommend it to our readers as calculated to afford them no common degree of gratification and instruction.
A Letter to a Friend, occasioned by the Death of the Right Honourable William Pitt. London, Hatchard. WE seldom have it in our power to 1806. 8vo. pp. 24. notice those pamphlets which are called forth by the passing events of the day. In general, indeed, they are removed from the sphere of our review by the exclusively political aspect which they assume. tract before us furnishes an honourable and an useful exception. Its object is to deduce from the death of our great and lamented statesman, some important instruction for the benefit of those who survive, and particularly of those who succeed him. And this object the author has accomplished in a manner which strongly marks both his talents as a writer, and his piety as a Christian. Our limits will permit us to give only one extract as a specimen of this performance, and we shall be much gratified if it encourages any of our readers to peruse the whole.
After twenty pages of very judicious reflections, of which our limits will not permit us to give even an abstract, the author thus expresses himself at the close of his letter.
But what if the voice of Mr. Pitt could now reach a British cabinet? What if it could now command the attention of a
British senate? What are the suggestions which, with his present views, be it more or less that his views are corrected and enlarged; what are the suggestions, which, with his present views he would now be earnest to enforce upon public men.
With solicitude inexpressibly greater than he ever felt on any subject of temporary concern, he would entreat Statesmen and Politicians habitually to bear in mind not only that they have a country to protect, and a King to serve, but that they have also a Master in Heaven. " Discharge your duty," he would exclaim, "to your country and to your King in singleness of heart, as
unto Christ; not with eye-service, as menpleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart: with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to Be not ashamed of your God and your Redeemer. Hold forth the word of life before the eyes of all men, as the spring of action, as your supreme and universal law. Hold it forth by measures conformable to its dictates; hold it forth by the stedfast avowal of the principles which it teaches, of the motives which it enjoins. By the rules which it delivers, by the spirit which it inculcates, try all your proceedings. Urge not the difficulties of your situation as a plea for sin. To you, to every man, belongs the assurance; My grace is sufficient for thee. Expel iniquity from your system. Will you say that the machine of Government cannot pursue its course, unless the -path be smoothed by corruption? Will you say that the interests of your country cannot be upheld, unless a distant quarter of the globe be desolated to support them? Will you say that the security of the free Briton will be endangered, unless the manstealer, against whom God has denounced his curse, receive from you licence and protection? Will you say, that if rapine and murder will at any rate be continued, you are warranted in becoming the despoilers and the murderers yourselves? Is this to be a terror to evil-doers? Is this to cleanse yourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit? Is this to perfect holiness in the fear of God? Is this to abstain from all appearance of evil? Is this to have the answer of a good conscience towards God? Is it not practically to aver to the Most High -The laws, O God, which Thou hast promulgated for the administration of Thine own world, are inadequate to their purpose. That which Thou commandest, we discover to be in many instances detrimental. That which Thou prohibitest, we perceive to be in many cases necessary. Forgive, approve, reward us, for introducing, as occasion requires, the needful alterations and exceptions.—Do you start at the thoughts of such language? Speak it not by your deeds. Obey the precepts of your God; and leave consequences in his hands. Dis
trust not his truth. Dare to confide in his Omnipotence. Believe that it is righteousness which exalteth a nation: that sin is a
reproach to any people: that nations shall be punished for their iniquities. In unfeigned humility; in constant prayer; in watchfulness against transgression; not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; hope for the divine blessing on your
counsels and exertions through that adorable Mediator, by whom all blessings are dispensed to man. Look to the day of account before his tribunal. Think that betimes, which you will think at last. Judge all things now by the standard by which you are to be judged. If you may not save your country; forfeit not the salvation of your soul." (p. 21-24.)
The Churchman's Confession, or an Appeal to the Liturgy, being a Sermon preached before the University of Cambridge, Dec. 1, 1805. By the Rev. CHARLES SIMEON, M. A. Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. Cambridge, Deighton. London, Rivingtons. pp. 30. price 1s.
THE object of this sermon is to prove, by an appeal to Scripture, and to the acknowledged principles of every member of the Church of England, as they are expressed in the general confession at the opening of our liturgy, the unimpeachable orthodoxy of those ministers of the establishment, (however they may be reviled by the ignorant as enthusiasts and visionaries), who strenuously and invariably press upon the consciences of their hearers the following grand topics of evangelical doctrine, viz.
1st. "That every man is a sinner before God;-that both the actions and the hearts of men are depraved; be between one and another with -that whatever difference there may respect to open sin, there is no difference with respect to their alienation from God, or their radical aversion to his holy will;-that on account of their defection from God, they deserve his heavy displeasure;"
and that all men without exception must perish, if they do not turn to God in the way that he has prescribed." (p. 8.)
2nd. "That in order to obtain salvation, two things are necessary, repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ'," meaning by repentance "such a deep sense of guilt and danger, as leads men with all humility of mind to
God, and stirs them up to a most earnest application to him for mercy; -that we must feel sin to be a burthen to our souls, must be made to tremble at the wrath of God which we have merited, and must cry to him for deliverance from it:""And that this must be our experience, not merely after some flagrant transgression, or on some particular occasion, but at all times: it must be as it were the daily habit of our minds." (p. 14.)
ed his point, and has thus given. us a test whereby we may try the discourses which we hear, as well as the state of our own souls. And it is evidently also a test which will condemn all those preachers "who descant on the dignity of our nature, the goodness of our hearts, and the rectitude of our lives;"-" who tell us that we are to be saved by our works, and who would thus lull us asleep in impenitency, and divert our attention from the Saviour of the world;"--"who plead for a confor mity to the world, and decry all vital godliness as enthusiasm;"“who separate the different parts of religion, inculcating some to the neglect of others, magnifying works to the exclusion of faith, or establish;ing faith to the destruction of good works, or confounding faith and works, instead of distinguishing them as the fruit from the root." All those persons are also condemned by it who do not "from their inmost souls lament the numberless transgressions, and the unsearchable depravity of their hearts;"—who do not " feel that they deserve the wrath of the Almighty," so that they can find no peace but in pleading with God the merits of his son;
3rd. That Christians must practise "every personal and relative duty;" -that "not satisfied with that standard of holiness which is current in the world," they must aim at "a higher tone of morals," being not only sober and honest, but leading lives" entirely devoted to God that it is every man's duty to delight himself in God, and to have such a lively sense of Christ's love to him, as shall constrain him to an unreserved surrender of all his faculties and powers to the service of the Lord; that we must live for God, and be like a faithful servant who enquires from day to day what his master's will is, and enquires in order that he may do it; that as a servant who had neglected his duties through the day, would feel ashamed and afraid of his master's displeasure, so should we feel ashamed and afraid, if any day pass without our having executed to the utmost of our power the duties ofit; that we should walk as on the confines of the eternal world, and act as persons who must shortly give account of every talent that has been committed to them;-that to be dead unto the world,' and alive unto God,' to attain more and more of the divide image, to grow up into Christ in all things,' to enjoy fellowship with God, and anticipate the enjoyments of heaven, is our duty, and should be our daily study and delight."
The preacher, we think, has prov
to whose souls Christ is not " precious," and who do not make him their "all in all;"-who are not " at the same time renewed in the spirit of their minds ;"-who do not "hate sin," and "account the service of God to be perfect freedom';—who do not, instead of wishing to have the law of God reduced to the standard of their practice, desire to have their practice raised to the standard of that law;-and who do not "labour to shine as lights in a dark world,' and to shew forth in their own conduct the virtues of him that hath called them'."
We have perused this sermon with pleasure and profit, and we confidently recommend it to our readers.