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Review of Books.
MEMOIRS OF THE REV. G. T. BEDELL, D. D.
Rector of St. Andrew's Church, Philadelphia. By Stephen H. Tyng. With a recommendatory preface, by the Rev. Thomas Snow, B. A. Rector of St. Dunstan's in the West, London. Seeley & Burnside.
We could hardly have thought that the name of Bedell,--so dear to all who love the souls of poor Irishmen, as having belonged to the heavenlyminded prelate who translated the word of God into their native tongue-could become more precious to us by its connection with the minister of a transatlantic church. Yet so it is: and had the life of the gifted man,
whose memoirs are before us, been longer spared, we hardly doubt that the pleased anticipation of his tutor, would have been more amply verified.—He would be the Bishop Bedell of America. We have rarely met with a character so striking, in relative holiness, in fervent, yet most. clam and judiciously-directed zeal, and in that happy exemplification in his home, of what he recommended from the pulpit, which tends above all things to give effect to public ministrations. The book advances no remarkable pretensions as a composition : the author evidently has but one object,
and that is the pure and disinterested one of inducing his readers to follow Bedell, as he followed Christ. Towards the closing scene of this good man's pilgrimage, the narrative is continued in the words of his fond and devoted wife, who was called to endure the anguish of beholding his sun go down at noon, when on a journey, and far from all the sweet solacings of home. Nothing can be more affecting than her recital ; which displays the power of divine grace in a very touching point of view, as regards herself: while describing the death scene that beautifully harmonized with the life of her beloved husband-calm, peaceful, solemn, and free from excitement. Some qualities not often united, shine with equal lustre in the character of Dr. Bedell.—Energetic firmness combined with singular composure of spirit; unwearied diligence in his holy calling, and a most vigilant superintendance over his flock, together with a perfect avoidance of individual notoriety. He seems to have watched most carefully against the snare of self-seeking; and is, like his divine Master, to be traced by his works, rather than by a personal display of himself.
Both Mr. Tyng and Mr. Snow regret the extreme paucity of epistolary remains to be collected, of this estimable man :
we do not. There is something exceedingly revolting to our mind in the act of delivering up the private communications of a departed friend, to be hauled over by biographers, or by any other persons. Except in cases where the writer has sanctioned the proceeding, we do hold it altogether indefensible, unless on the very unscriptural principle of the end sanctifying the means— -public good promoted by an act of private treachery. As to a diary: sach a man as Dr. Bedell might, perhaps, keep a record of bis secret thoughts, and mental exercises, for his own benefit ; but such a man as Dr. Bedell would have taken special care to destroy it, or to ensure its destruction. We attach very little value to posthumous journals, because we are confident that no man who knows his own heart would commit to paper its real workings, with a view to their meeting the eye of the world. If he intends his diary for publication, it cannot be honestly written. If he does not, can it be honestly published ?
NOTICES OF THE LIVES AND DEATH
BEDS OF ABNER AND DAVID BROWN, two infant brothers, who were laid in one grave on the 18th of January, 1834; with suggestions on the Christian nurture of children. Nisbet and Co.
The father and biographer of these sweet children thus writes in the preface to his book.
• An attempt to record the biography of two babes must run the hazard of being esteemed trifling, except, indeed, by those who, entering into its design, will view as not unimportant the dawning of an infant's soul under the operation of religion. Such readers will, it is hoped, bear in mind that a child's habits-an infant's ideas—are necessarily infantile; and that the object of a memoir like the present can only be attained by such an amplitude of detail as shall bring out the characters of the children. Their general habits and pursuits have been described, as well as their dispositions and religious feelings: for in order to obtain a just view of the state of a Christian, young or old, he must be seen not in his directly devotional points only, but in bis every day life, and in his use of the powers, whatever they may be, which God has committed to his stewardship,' (page v.) We are not unqualified admirers of books that treat of death-bed scenes; more particularly when the subject is a young child, or an ignorant person very recently brought to the knowledge of the gospel. We would modify old Newton's expression, and say, “Tell me not only how the person died, but also how he lived.' That a sudden and perfect work is frequently wrought in the soul by divine operation, even at the last, what Christian will venture to deny? Yet the instances are, alas! not unfrequent, where, under the apprehension of present dissolution, among condemned criminals, and in cases of dangerous illness, strong evidence has apparently been given of a saving change: but, where on escaping the impend: ing danger, and returning to the ordinary scenes of life, the supposed convert has relapsed into such foul sin, as extinguished every hope of his having experienced the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. For this cause we desire to meet with particulars, in memorials of happy deaths, that may enable us to trace the growth so beautifully described by our Lord : “ first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear." Where children are concerned, who have passed the first stage of infancy, we love to be assured that praying parents, or teachers, guided their young steps into the right path betimes: and that indications of precious fruit were given, before the approach of death.
In reference to these notices of Abner and David Brown, we consider the book invaluable. All that we could desire in such a work, is to be found in its pages. We not only become personally acquainted with the little brothers, who, one at the age of eight years and a half, the other at four and a half, were so suddenly summoned to behold the face of their Father in heaven, but we have all their engaging ways set before us in a manner calculated to illustrate some great truth, or important principle of scripture; and we obtain a clear insight into the excellent plan of their watchful parents. An abridged edition, we are told, is in preparation ; but we may strongly recommend the present one to such as are seeking out the footsteps of the flock; and desiring to follow the path trodden by those who have received a distinguished blessing in bringing their little ones to Jesos. One of the peculiar facilities offered to the spiritual growth of these happy little brothers seems to have been found in the habit of free and constant interchange of spiritual thoughts, among the members of their domestic circle. Of this, there is a grievous deficiency, too often a total absence in many families professing godliness : and we are fully convinced that the plant of divine grace in the mind of a child will no more thrive where the things of Christ are only spoken of at the stated seasons of family reading and prayer, than a young geranium would flourish, that was kept immured in darkness, excepting for an occasional half hour, twice a-day, when it might be brought to the light of the sun. We build conservatories, and frame them almost throughout of glass, that the light of day may have free ingress to our shrubs, above, and around: yet, strange incon