Imágenes de páginas








The fear of God begins with the Heart, and purifies and rectifies its
and from the Heart, thus rectified, grows a conformity in the Life,
the Words, and the Actions. Sir Matthew Hale's Contemplations.




Printed by D. & G. BRUCE, No. 20 Slote-lane.


An eminent Professor of our own time modestly declared that he tauglit chemistry in order that he might learn it. The writer of the following pages might, with far more justice, offer a similar declaration, as an apology for so repeatedly treating on the important topics of religion and morals. Abashed by the equitable precept,

Let those teach others who themselves excelshe is aware, how fairly she is putting it in the power of the reader, to ask, in the searching words of an eminent old Prelate, “They that speak thus and advise thus, do they do thus?” She can defend herself in no other way, than by adopting for a reply the words of the same venerable divine, which immediately follow.- O that it were not too true. Yet although it be but little that is attained, the very aim is right, and something there is that is done by it. It is better to have such thoughts and desires, than altogether to give them up; and the very desire, if it be serious and sincere, may so much change the habitude of the soul and life, that it is not to be despised.”

The world does not require so much to be informed as reminded. A remembrancer may be almost as useful as an instructor; if his office be more humble, it is scarcely less necessary. The man whose employment it was, statedly to proclaim in the ear of Philip, REMEMBER THAT THOU ART MORTAL, bad his plain admonition been allowed to make its due impression, might have produced a more salutary effect on the royal Usurper, than the im. passioned orations of his immortal assailant

whose resistless eloquence Shook th'arsenal, and fulmined over Greece,

To Macedon and Artaxerxes' throne. While the orator boldly strove to check the ambition, and arrest the injustice of the king, the simple herald barely reminded him, how short would be the reign of jpjustice, how inevitable and how near'was the final period of anıbition. Let it be remembered to the credit of the Monarch, that while the thunders of the Politician were intolerable, the Monitor was of his own appointment.

This slight sketch, for it pretends to no higher name, aims only at being plain and practical. Contending solely for those indispensable points, which, by involving present duty, involve future happiness, the writer has avoided, as far as Christian sincerity permits, all controverted topics; has shunned whatever might lead to disputation rather than to profit.

We live in an age, when, as Mr. Pope observed of that in which he wrote, it is criminal to be moderate. Wonld it could not be said that religion has her parties as well as politics! Those who endeavour to steer clear of all extremes in either, are in danger of being reprobated by both. It is rather a hardship for persons, who having considered it as a Christian duty to coltivate a spirit of moderation in thinking, and of candour in judg. ing, that, when these dispositions are brought into action, they frequently incur a harsher censure, than the errors which it was their chief aim to avoid.

Perhaps, therefore, to that human wisdom whose leading object is human applause, it might answer best to be exclusively attached to some one party On the protec. tion of that party at least, it might in that case reckon; and it would then have the dislike of the opposite class alone to contend against: while those who cannot go all lengths with either cau hardly escape the disapprobation of both.

To apply the remark to the present case. The Au. thor is apprehensive that she may be at once censured by opposite classes of readers, as being too strict, and too relaxed ;-- too much attached to opinions, and loo in different about them ;-as having narrowed the broad field of Christianity by labouring to establish its peculi. ar doctrines ;-as having broken down its inclosures by not confining herself to doctrines exclusively ;-as hav. iug considered morality of too little importance, as having raised it to an undue elevation ;-as having made practice every thing; as having male it nothing.

While a Catholic spirit is accused of being latitudinarian in one party, it really is so in another. In one, it exhibits the character of Christianity on her own grand but correct scale; in the other, it is the offspring of that indifference, which, considering all opinions as of nearly the same value, indemnifies itself for tolerating all, by pot attaching itself to any; which, establishing a selfcomplacent notion of general benevolence, with a view to discredit the narrow spirit of Christianity, and adop

[ocr errors]

ting a display of that cheap material, liberal sentiment, as opposed to religious strictness, sacrifices true piety to talse candour.

Christianity may be said to suffer between two criminals, but it is difficult to determine by which she suffers most; whether by that uncharitable bigotry which disguises her divine character, and speculatively adopts the faggot and the flames of inquisitorial intolerance; or by that indiscriminate candour, that conceding slackness, which, by stripping her of her appropriate attributes, reduces her to something scarcely worth contending for; to something which, instead of making her the religion of Christ, generalizes her into any religion which may chuse to adopt her.-The one distorts her lovely lineaments into caricature, and throws her graceful figure into gloomy shadow; the other, by daubing her over with colours not her own, renders her forin indistinct, and obliterates her features. In the first instance, she excites little affection; in the latter, she is not recognised.

The Writer has endeavoured to address herself, as a Christian who must die soon, to Christians who must die certainly. She trusts that she shall not be accused of erecting herself into a censor, but be considered as one who writes with a real consciousness that she is far from having reached the attainments she suggests; with a heartfelt conviction of the danger of holding out a standard too likely to discredit her own practice She writes not with the assuniption of superiority, but with a deep practical sense of the infirmities against which she has presuned to caution others. She wishes to be understood as speaking the language of sympathy, rather than of dictation; of feeling rather than of document. So far from fancying herself exempt from the evils on which she has animadverted, her very feeling of those evils has assisted her in their delineation. Thus this interior senti. ment of her own deficiencies, which miglit be urged as a disqualification, has, she trusts, enabled her to point out dangers to others. If the patient cannot lay down rules for the cure of a reigning disease, much less effect the cure; yet from the symptoms common to the same malady, lie who labours under it may suggest the necessity of attending to it. He may treat the case feelingly, if not scientifically. He may substitute experience, in default ot' skill; he may insist on the value of the rem

« AnteriorContinuar »