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happy, than that which is directed by a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man ; where no iaward self-reproach is added to any reproaches from without ; where truth is the sole mistress of the tongue, and virtue the sole master of the heart. This is that primary state of mind which becomes capable of the first requisite of coming near to the kingdom of God, namely, to believe that God is.'
The Scribe whom our Saviour pronounced to be not far from the kingdom of God, this divine discovers to be the greatest in the kingdom. The Scriptures only relate that he wisely acknowledged the obligation of man according to the divine law, “ to love God with all his mind, and heart, and soul, and strength;" but Mr. Robertson actually speaks of him as having performed all that the law required. From the strain of the whole discourse, it seems never to have occurred to him, what every line of revelation, every testimony of fact demonstrates, that the holy law, the sublime rule of virtue, which was originally given to man in the perfection of innocence, has been invariably found too pure in its nature, and too comprehensive in its extent, to be observed by a race that is depraved and fallen from its original glory. Whether this divine ever read through certain inspired epistles, the evidence of his work does not enable us to determine; but he is evidently adverse to their principal and express design. That design we scarcely need to observe, is to fasten on the consciences of men a conviction, that the divine law exhibits the model we ought to resemble, and by which we may estimate our deficiencies; a conviction of the condemnation and pu. nishment justly due to the violation of a rule, to which even the prejudice of depravity can frame no objection, and which nothing but the most corrupt propensities would dare to transgress : it is in this sense that the law is denominated a school. master to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.
In one discourse Mr. R. unluckily remembers his text, where it had been much for his credit that both the writer and the reader should forget it. A sermon on perseverance is actually spun out of the words of St. Paul, Acts xxvii. 9. “Except these abide in the ship they (ye) cannot be saved."
• My friends, let us never lose sight of this cordial advice, but apply it daily to ourselves, and it will carry us finally into Abraham's bosom The life of every one of us is short, beset with difficulties and temptations, to prove whether we are fit for the haven to which we are destined to go ; we sail on, amid all the chances of a fair wind, and of a rapid tide, as well as the gloomy dangers of a tempestuous storm; while we enjoy the cool and temperate breeze, we are to expect the violence of hurricanes; while we touch upon smooth and sandy shores, we are to prepare and steer our course so as to avoid hidden shoals and secret rocks ; our little bark is not to be suffered to loat at the mercy of the waters, but to be
steered by that discretion at the helm, which will secure us a safe arrival at that happy haven, where we may fear no evil, and where our weary toils shall be at rest
• You resolve to go on in your voyage, with the steady sail of virtuous perseverance in rectitude; but ere you have proceeded far, you forget these resolutions, and the hidden and unrestrained impulse of some bad propensity in which you indulge, or some new temptation, which you will not exert courage enough to brook, takes your unguarded vessel out of its course, and after suffering all the horrors of the most imminent distress, you begin to examine the danger of your situation ; you here take soundings, and you find that your former depth is gone, that the innocency of your mind, and the early generosity of your soul, are departed, and that you never can recover your line, without the loss of much of that nobleness of character, which 'now you can never boast of, but can only recollect with veneration, and with tears !
The wretchedness of your heart, torn with the remorse which chides every one of us, who bring distresses upon ourselves by indiscretion and folly, now spoils the little remaining lustre of hope, and the dark night of despair is about to shroud you in eternal ruin ; distracted with yourselves, and with the dangers in which you are involved, you are ready to fly from all the exertiuns of which some power yet remains to retrieve you, and you would even desert the call of obedience, and cast off every religious and virtuous principle which binds you, and may yet reconcile you to an offended God.
In that moment, listen, with thankfulness, to the advice of St Paul:–« Except these abide in the ship ye cannot be saved.” Except ye awaken from the delirium of sin, and set boldly to work with all the energy which your worldly affairs show you to be capable of exerting ; except you look back upon your injured and deserted soul, and press forward to its recovery, with the same ardour and unremitted zeal which distinguish your daily operations, when you are pursuing what you wish to gain, or fear to lose in the world ; except you recall your lost resolution, and repent, with deep and unfeigned sine cerity, the baseness of your former desertion of the duty you owe to your own soul and to God, with the same undaunted manliness with which you would defend your country against the invasion of a desperate and intrepid enemy : except you now signalize your character and your virtue to this high and exalted purpose, of endeavouring to recover the mercy of God, St. Paul, and the great Master of Righteousness himself, declare, with unequivocal voice, that “ Ye cannot be saved.",
It has been common, and often it has been just, to censure the “methodistical” preachers for their proneness to draw out whimsical allegories from the narrations or sentiments of scrip ture; but this spiritual voyage of Mr. Robertson, which he pursues with great resolution through four or five pages, is a proof that they are in danger of being completely outdone in this species of absurdity and bad taste, by preachers who hold methodistical doctrines in most laudable and righteous abhorrence.
In the second volume there are twenty-six discourses, on the following subjects.
Happiness the design of Revelation. - The Death of Christ. Warning against Disobedience. God's Universal Protection. God's Moral Government. On Remorse. Of moderating the Passions. The Resurrection of the Soul. Of Separation from Christ. The duty of acquiring pure and virtuous Motives. The Vail of the Temple. The Power of Christ
. The Crucifixion. The Coming of Christ. Of Falling short of our Duty. On the Uncertainty of Human Life. The Analogy of all Nature with the Soul. The Effect of Good Example. On Disin., terestedness. Restitution for Wrongs. On the Frequency of religious Instruction. On a due Regard to a religious Life. On Evasion and Falsehood. The Necessity of a Mediator. On Filial Affection. The Effect of Religious Communication. On Family Union."
Our readers will probably be struck with the title of a sermon on the resurrection of the soul. Happily for us, we are not obliged to decipher the preacher's meaning ; for both body and soul are so overwhelmed and mashed together under the pressure of this clumsy sermon, that one has lost too much of distinctness, and the other of verisimilitude, for us to be able to recognize either. We have our suspicions, nevertheless, that Mr. R.'s dullness, like Swift's, is not without its meaning. He refers to Messrs. Wakefield and Fellowes, and others of the same corps, in such a way as to awaken our jealous apprehensions, that he either believes, by one Hibernianism, that we have no soul but the body, or by another, that the only resurrection of the body is the separate existence of the soul.
A preceding discourse supersedes, in cowardly silence, the antiquated notion that “the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world, died for our sins, the just for the unjust, and thus gave his life' a ransom for many." It is the evident determination of the preacher, that the Saviour shall die for any thing but to make atonement for sin; and that, rather than have any such design, he shall die for nothing but for dying sake.
“ The analogy of all nature with the soul,” is such a high sounding title for a sermon, that our readers may justly require a specimen of its nature.
Every production of the natural world is progressive, from almost nothing to perfection ; the gentlest dawn of morning twilight opens the gradual course to an effulgent noon ; the smallest grain unfolds the fibres, leaves, and stem of the future plant; the tender sapling, shivering in the breeze, rises to the sturdy oak of the forest ; the single corn swells to the full ear, and yields the abundance of the coming harvest: It is thus, also, that the weakness of the infant, on its mother's breast, expands to the herculean strength of man; it is thus that the scarcely perceptible mind rises to the stretch of human learning ; and the first spark of the breath of life from Heaven, dignifies and animates the whole, by taking
shrined in grace.
the charge of various duties, and all the wise responsibility of the future soul; for we are the temples .of the living God.'
We feel ourselves compelled, in justice to Mr. R. to ohserve, that'Jesus Christ is through all these pages treated with great respect, mingled with expressions of affection for him, as a very amiable man, a devout worshipper, nay even a very useful teacher. But we can scarcely conceive of a more cus rious and instructive scene, than to behold a candid novice in religion, who had derived all his knowledge of this worthy person from Mr. R.'s prepossessing description, take up the bible itself, and discover that the amiable man was there clothed with all the attributes of a God; that the few years in which he mingled as a brother with mankind, are only like the inomentary envelopement of the sun in a thick cloud ; that, ages before this, he reigned as the Eternal, and acted at the creation of the world, and that during all the ages which have since elapsed, he has filled the throne of heaven, receiving all the honours which loyal spirits can offer to divinity en
It would also perfect the interest of the scene, to watch the countenance of such an examiner, who, after having reproached bimiself for insulting a divine person with the flattering compliments which one man would pay to another, should yield to a very natural curiosity, and betake himself to the church or chapel where Mr. R. pays his devoirs to the pious man whom he has so warmly extolled. With what surprise would the pupil discover, that the preacher himself worshipped this very being as a God, prayed to þim for mercy, and paid him the honours of supreme adoration ! The thoughts which breathe, the words which burn, can never sufficiently blast' or brand the disingenuity of those, who repeat the language of the established liturgy, and then mount the pulpit to talk of Jesus Christ in phrases of derogatory compliment, like those which prevail in these wretched performances.
The volumes are dedicated, very much in vain we apprehend, to the present Chancellor of the Exchequer; Mr. R. should have waited for some minister to assume the disposal of benefices, who would not scruple to manifest a sheer love for unscriptural doctrine, and would require no beauties of eloquence or stores of learning to conceal the cankered theology. Art. V. The Minstrel, or the Progress of Genius ; in Continuation of the
Poem left' unfinished by Dr. Beattie. Book III. 4to. pp. 31. Price
6s. bds. Longman and Co. 1808. We have always regarded “ The Minstrel”. as the offspring
of a Muse that died in childbirth; and as such we have
loved it with the tenderness due to an orphan. It is indeed & strange circumstance, that the author of the two first cantos of a Poem, so highly and so justly celebrated, should never have found courage or constancy to coinplete his design, nor ever afterwards have produced any thig worthy of the name of poetry *. There is not on record a more deplorable example of impotence or idleness in an author of enthusiastic feeling and ardent ambition, than the abrupt conclusion of “ the Minstrel" affords us : “ the Progress of Genius,” like
“ the story of a bear and fiddle
“ Begins, but breaks off in the middle.” Hudibras, p. 1. We are inclined, however, rather to give Dr. Beatrie credit and compassion for having exhausted his limited powers in this grand effort, than to cast contempt on his memory by charging him with incorrigible poetical indolence. But if it was extraordinary that Dr. Beattie should leave his chosen theme imperfect, it is. not less so, that a bard, gifted like the author of the work before us, should condescend to build on any man's foundation except his own. We scarcely know whether to rejoice or to repine at this appearance of “ Book III. of the Minstrel :'' if it has caused an “ Edwin” to arise among us, who would otherwise have been mute, we are content ; but if for the sake and the sanction of such a disguise he has been prevented from coming forth in his proper character, and in the strength of his own genius, we regret the choice that he has made, though we cannot condemn it.
Dr. Beattie's poem is distinguished by such exquisite melli. fluence of versification, that, even where it is so monotonously soothing as to lull the reader to sleep, it inspires hiin with dreams of delight. The language is most laboriously and patiently polished, occasionally animated by flashes of thought and expression that instantaneously strike, and are for ever remembered; while simplicity prevailing amidst pomp
and prodigality of diction, and playfulness mingled with melancholy, altogether forin a siyle inexpressib y pleasing, yet the most curious and artificial that can be found among our fa. vourite British poets. The subjects of " The Minsirel,” we have always thought inferior to the strains in which they are sung ; for, excepting the lovely and luxuriant description with which the poem is overshadowed, there is little re. maining but languid narrative and meayre morality, displaying neither fertility of invention, nor originality of thought.
In all Dr. Beattie's higher excellences, bis successor, * We do not recollect whether “ The Hermit” was written before or after “ The Minstrel :" but at any rate we except that piece from this sweeping condemnation of Dr. Beattie's minor poems.