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"WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT? or, The Ameliorated Condition of the World in Answer to Three Years' Prayer. By Benjamin Scott, Esq., F.R.A.S., Chamberlain of London. London: Morgan & Chase. pp. 16. Price Threepence.
THIS tract contains an address delivered at the opening service in the week of prayer, 1863. It narrates the circumstances under which the observance of a week of special prayer-which has now existed for three successive years-originated, and invites attention to the remarkable events which have been witnessed during that period, such as-the opening of China; the emancipation of the Russian serfs; the toleration extended to Protestants in the Austrian dominions; the establishment of civil and religious liberty in Italy; the advances towards the emancipation of the slaves in America; the wonderful progress of religion in Madagascar; the revival of religion in Jamaica; and the general disposition to hear the Gospel preached, so that not only are the naves of our cathedrals resorted to, but seven theatres, three large music halls, and a public bath, are filled with attentive listeners every Lord's-day evening in London alone."—p. 13. Mr. Scott comes to the conclusion, that
"There has not been, in any three years, such progress made in exalting what is depressed, and bringing low what is exalted, and in making rough places plain and crooked places straight, in preparing in the desert a highway for our God,' as has been effected during the last three years. I affirm, moreover, that no such progress has been made in any thirty years; and I will even add, after a very careful survey of history, that I believe there has been no such progress effected in the course of any three hundred years."—p. 15.
And he asks
"With these facts before us, is not God the hearer and the answerer of prayer?-the rewarder of such as diligently seek Him?"—p. 15.
ON EDUCATION AND THE DUTIES OF CIVIL LIFE. By James Mott. London: A. W. Bennett. pp. 112. Price One Shilling.
THIS is a reprint of an American book which does not contain anything to deserve such a distinction. It consists of two parts: the first, Observations on Education, addressed to Parents; the second, Observations on the Duties of Civil Life, addressed to Children. It does not appear right to include both these in one volume. The observations are judicious, and the advice given is well suited to the parties addressed, but the style of writing is very imperfect. Nor can we speak favourably of the religious sentiments introduced towards the close. The following are specimens:
"The foundation of pure religion is the fear and love of God, demonstrated by good works." p. 104.
"To arrive at the saving knowledge of it, consult the Scriptures more than the systems of men. But attend still more to that divine principle in your own hearts which the apostle to the Gentiles terms the grace of God." "It is this grace, manifestation of the Spirit, or as it is also called in Scripture.light.' Spirit of God,' 'Christ within,' &c., that shews mankind right and wrong, checks them in their way to evil, &c." p. 106.
Our readers will think this a very imperfect, if not erroneous definition of the religion of the New Testament.
GRANDMAMMA'S CONVERSATIONS ON THE BIBLE. By a Clergyman's Wife. Ten Parts. London: Wertheim, Macintosh, & Hunt. Price One Penny each.
THESE ten parts embrace the history contained in the Book of Genesis. There is nothing remarkable in these conversations, and had we seen them in manuscript, we should hardly have recommended their publication. But their circulation cannot but be beneficial in spreading Scripture knowledge. In reading the first part, we perceive that the firmament is defined as "the clear blue sky above us, where we see the bright stars shining so beautifully." Is it not rather the atmosphere surrounding our earth?
In part 4, on the Life of Abraham, we are told that "Circumcision continued until the time of our Saviour, when baptism took the place of it under the Gospel." We are not aware of any Scriptural authority for this statement.
These matters may, perhaps, receive attention in re-printing the tracts.
THE SEPARATING FLOOD. A Sermon occasioned by the death of Mrs. Mary Lum Eldridge. By the Rev. G. Rogers. Brixton: Edmonds. pp. 47. THIS is an excellent Sermon upon the words of Joshua to the Israelites, when they were about to pass through Jordan to the Promised Land, "Ye have not passed this way heretofore." We notice it because it contains a memorial of a lady who was the daughter of the Rev. Henry Heap, of Trinity Chapel, Brixton, and the wife of the Rev. Samuel Eldridge, his successor, and a zealous Sunday school teacher, so far as her circumstances permitted. With the assistance of two or three young friends, she commenced the Sunday school at that place, on May 20th, 1838. When her father removed to West Street Chapel, Brighton, she took her share in the labours of the school attached to that place. When she became the wife of Mr. Eldridge, and returned to Brixton, she conducted a Bible class for young women in the vestry of the chapel, and evidence has since been given that these labours were not without fruit unto God. The welfare of the Girls' British School lay near her heart. Domestic cares prevented her at length from active co-operation, but never destroyed her affectionate sympathy in all that had any bearing on the interests of the young. Just before the commencement of her fatal illness, finding that home claims were less pressing and numerous, she had proposed the formation of a Bible class for young women, which should meet at her home on Sabbath afternoons; but God was pleased to frustrate her intentions by severe illness, which terminated in her death, on November 15th, 1862, in her 46th year.
As a specimen of the sermon, we quote the following extract:"If our faith carry us through the afflictions of life, it will carry us through the sorrows of death. If it carry us through the fears of life, it will carry us through the fears of death. If through the dark clouds of life, it will carry us through the darkest cloud of death. If it enable us to conquer the world, the flesh, and the devil while we live, it will enable us to conquer them when we die. Do we mean to say that our faith is not more tried in death than in life? We say more;-that faith does more for us while we live than when we die. The first act of faith by which, after long and painful struggles with self righteousness and with sins, we enter into Christ as our rest, is far greater than that
by which we pass to our rest in heaven. The flood of temptation, of iniquity, of Divine wrath, through which we then pass, are far more terrible than the stream of death. The change is much greater: for by the former we pass from the world into the church of Christ on the earth; and by the other from the church below to the church above. In the one from being without Christ, to being in Him; in the other from being in Him, to being with Him. The church above and below are one; but between the world and the church a great gulf is fixed. We may pass from the world into the church of Christ on the earth; but we must pass from the church on earth to the church in heaven. We do maintain, therefore, that the faith which carries us through floods of convictions, temptations, and affliction, in this life, will easily carry us through the river of death. To live for Christ may even require more faith than to die for Him. Certainly, to live unto the Lord, and to die unto the Lord, are acts of the same faith. Tell me that a man had faith to live in Christ, and I am satisfied that he had faith to die in Him. Tell me that his faith conquered every foe in life, and I feel assured it could subdue the last enemy, which is death. Let us only be assured that our friends had faith in Christ to live, and we need not doubt but they had faith in him to die. If their faith triumphed over many afflictions in life, it would gain an easy triumph in death. They had nothing to do, like Israel on the brink of Jordan, even when it overflowed its banks, but to go forward."-- pp. 17-19.
There is appended to Mr. Rogers' sermon and biographical notice of the deceased, a sermon preached on the same occasion by the Rev. T. A. Fieldwick.
THE TWO APPRENTICES. By the Rev. J. T. Barr. London: S. W. Partridge. pp. 30.
A brief narrative of the different roads through life trodden by two yonths, with misery at the end of one, and happiness at the other's termination. There is nothing in the tale which raises it above the level of the great number of similar ones which already exist.
A CHAT WITH THE BOYS ON NEW YEAR'S EVE. By Old Merry. London: Jackson, Walford, and Hodder. pp. 56.
A very lively and profitable chat. It was especially suitable for last New Year's Eve, but will be interesting and useful on the eve of any day. It is beautifully printed, and will form a most acceptable present to well educated boys.
MARY MARKLAND, THE COTTAGER'S DAUGHTER: a Narrative founded on facts. By the Rev. Geo. Fowler. London: J. Nisbet & Co. pp. 127. MARY MARKLAND, the child of parents who were ignorant of religious truth, had been brought under its influence, and becomes the means of spiritual good to them. For some time she lived a useful and happy life, but, unhappily, consented to marry an irreligious young man, the consequence of which was great injury to her own soul, and the entire destruction of her domestic happiness. The tale, which has all the appearance of truth, teaches a lesson which cannot be too frequently or too earnestly impressed on the minds of our young people, that in the selection of a companion for life, religious character should be the first consideration.
THE COTTAGE FIRESIDE: or, The Parish Schoolmaster. By the Rev. H. Duncan, D.D. Edinburgh: Oliphant and Co. London: Hamilton and Co. pp. 251.
UNDER the guise of a North-country Schoolmaster, the author essays to "point out, and remedy the common abuses which take place in the education of children, particularly among the Scottish Peasantry."
George Ferguson, the Schoolmaster, is a kind hearted, observant, thoughtful man, rather apt to remind his friends that he is a pedagogue and knows it; but a very estimable character, notwithstanding this little peculiarity. He arranges to spend the vacation with an only brother, from whom he has been for some years separated; and the mishaps, mistakes, and misconduct which he witnesses in the family of his brother, and in those of his neighbours, are made the occasion for homilies, numerous, manifold, and varied.
The want of parental oversight, the ill-judged attempts at coercion, the use of deceit and untruthfulness in dealing with children, the evils of bad example, and very many similar topics which are brought out in the course of the story, are dealt with in a very matter of fact and sensible manner.
Nor does the worthy preceptor stop here: step by step we are led to see the process of reformation; the exposure of a fault is made, but as a preliminary to its removal; and the manner in which order and harmony are evolved from the confusion and discord which prevailed, is very suggestive.
The following extract gives an idea of the state of affairs at the commencement of the story. The schoolmaster has just arrived at the door of his
"I was about hastily to enter, when I heard sounds within, not at all in unison with the mild serenity of nature out of doors, nor with the bright visions of peace and joy, which so many fond recollections had presented to my imagination.
Be a good bairn! be a good bairn, this moment!' cried an angry female voice, whilst the little rebel she addressed screamed as loud as he could bawl. If you dinna hold your tongue directly, I'll send for the minister. Look! yonder he's coming to take you away in his pocket! Wheesht!'
"Terror for a moment got the better of passion, and the little fellow, checking his cries, looked towards the door; but seeing nobody, for I hesitated to enter, he was convinced that his mother was deceiving him, and renewed the roar of rage and defiance.
"Here bogle man,' cried the disappointed mother, endeavouring to overpower him by increasing the object of fear, here, take him away; he's au ill bairn.' "This mode of education was so contrary to all my ideas of propriety, that I could bear it no longer, and I hastily opened the door. The child a fine fellow of about four years old, uttered a loud scream of despair as soon as he saw me, and starting up, ran into a corner, where he hid himself behind a table; whilst his elder brother and sister, who were sitting by the fire, sprang with equal signs of terror into a bed, and covered themselves with the bed-clothes. The mother, too, was at first evidently confused and put out of sorts by the untimely intrusion; and I am sure, if the bogle man himself had made his appearance, he could scarcely have created greater consternation." The arrival of the father of the juvenile offender gives a new turn to the state of affairs.
"Come away my bonny man,' resumed the fond father, pretending to search for something in his pockets, come away and see what I have gotten here. Here's an apple for a good boy. A bonny red-cheeked apple.
There's a good bairn. Is not he a good bairn, Uncle George?' I made no answer to this appeal, but waited in silence to see how the scene would end.
"In the meantime, the little fellow, bribed by the deceitful promise, came slowly from his corner, and with his finger in his mouth, walked up to his father's knee. My brother took him in his arms, and wiping his face, which was all besmeared with tears and dirt, called him, his dear good wee Jockey,' and kissed him from ear to ear.
"Wee Jockey, however was not so easily cajoled. 'Where's my apple? Gie's the apple! Gie's the apple I tell ye!' was so often and so firmly repeated, that the indulgent father, who had no apple to give, began to repent of his stratagem, when the mother relieved him by thinking of an expedient. Here, Jenny! cried she, winking at her daughter, and pretending to put money into her hand; 'here! run to the shop, and buy the bairn an apple. Make haste now.' Then, taking him on her knee, she sang lullaby to him, till, exhausted by his exertions, he fell fast asleep, and was safely lodged in bed.
Had this child been properly brought up, said I to myself, how much easier would it have been to have settled all this mighty affair by a single look of authority, and how much better too, both for his head and heart!"
When we further intimate that the Dominie's reforms are not only productive of benefit to others, but, that through them, he is introduced to a young schoolmistress, even more clever and interesting than himself; and that in due time, a wedding results, we imagine our readers will perceive the perfect appropriateness of such a conclusion.
SARAH'S PRESENT: or, the Story of a New Testament. OLD MARGIE'S FLOWER STALL: and other Stories. THE FIR TREE OF THE JURA: and other Stories Edinburgh: W. Oliphant & Co. London: Hamilton & Co. THE above are recent additions to a series of sixpenny books for the young.
The first is an interesting account of a ragged untaught boy and girl, in whose welfare a benevolent magistrate, before whom they are brought, becomes interested, and by his kind interposition rescues them from their evil course and gives them an opportunity of reformation. A Testament given by the sister to her brother is very closely connected with the history, and becomes the means of restoring them to each other after long years of separation.
The other two contain several short and attractive stories, well adapted to entertain and instruct the class for which they are intended.
TALES OF THE SCOTTISH PEASANTRY. Edinburgh: W. Oliphant & Co. London: Hamilton & Co. p.p. 321.
This volume consists of a series of narratives, having, to a great extent, a local interest, and being adapted specially to the dwellers north of the Tweed. The crimes, follies or virtues of several individuals whose lives are narrated, serve to point various moral lessons which the writers enforce with plain, practical, common sense; and there is no lack of good counsel and sage precept interspersed with the stories.