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the life and breath of poetry, we think he is almost unequalled by any contemporary. We conclude that his powers are circumscribed, from the way in which he has employed them, rather than from any other circumstance. To go down to posterity, however, as a great poet, something more than genius is requisite. There must be a high and holy ambition of legitimate fame ; there must be a moral discipline of the intellect and feelings : the good, the true, and the beautiful, must, as ideal archetypes, occupy the visions of the poet ; and he must be the partaker of an elevating and purifying faith, by which bis mind may be brought into contact with “ things unseen” and infinite. All these requisites must meet in a great poet; and there must be an appearance ať least of approximation to them, in the character of any one that aspires to maintain, by means of his writings, a permanent influence over the minds and sympathies of his fellow men. There must be at least the semblance of virtue, or of the love of virtue.
“ The Siege of Corinth” is dedicated to his Lordship's friend, J. C. Hobhouse, Esq. ; and “ Parisina” to S. B. Davies, Esq. We shall be very happy to see the next poem with which his Lordship may favour us, dedicated to Lady Byron. Art. VI. Memoirs of Captain James Wilson, containing an Account
of his Enterprises and Sufferings in India, his Conversion to Christianity, his Missionary Voyage to the South Seas, and his peaceful and triumphant Death. By John Griffin, 2d Edition revised, 8vo. pp. 230. Price 5s. 6d. Williams and Son, 1816... AT a time when the nature of Christian conversion, and its a necessity with respect to the baptized natives of a Christian country, have actually become the topics of a fresh theological controversy, a publication tending to illustrate both the reality and the efficacy of that moral change which is consequent upon a sincere reception of the Gospel, may be deemed particularly seasonable. The conversion of Captain Wilson-even the deriders of methodistic conversions would scarcely hesitate to admit of the appropriateness of the term. in this iøstance-is another added to the mass of facts to which the assertors of the evangelical doctrine in question may appeal, as a practical evidence of its truth. But there were some circumstances attending the ehange in the Captain's character, which render it not indeed the more remarkable in itself, but the more intelligible to a large class of persons labouring under ab unhappy: prejudice on this subject. The distinct. part which was allotted to human agency in the transaction, the confessedly: rational means by which it was effected, and the unequivocal evidence which the subject of this moral trans
to admits of met the conte Gosper, which is
formation subsequently gave of a strong mind, a clear under: standing, and a benevolent heart ;-all these circumstances may procure for this instance of conversion a greater degree of attention than is usually bestowed on such cases, which, happening for the most part out of the actual observation of the individual, and being of a nature wholly foreign from his experience, are received with incredulity, if not with irreligious contempt. This is exactly such a case as the more honest doubter would require for his satisfaction, in reference to the genuine effect of religion upon the mind.
The early part of Captain Wilson's life was singularly eventful. The first part of the Narrative, detailing his achievements in India, his escape from Cuddalore, and his subsequent sufferings as Hyder Ally's prisoner, will not fail to tempt in many cases to a perusal of the Memoirs. The sea cond part relates the steps by which the Indian Captain' was led to renounce his deistical principles. Mr. Griffin details the argumentative conversation which served to remove the Captain's principal objections to the Scriptures, and the reader will appreciate the judicious manner in which it was conducted by his biographer. It was not long before
"The minister perceived that though the Captain's reason was in favour of the mode of argument proposed, his feelings did not appear to be controuled by his judgement; and that his feeling, were those of habit and of long continuance, but his reason was only the flash of conviction elicited by argument: he therefore thought it best to meet his wishes, and attempt to weaken his prejudices by removing his objections. This is an object worthy of consideration in all personal debates upon ' moral and religious subjects, for the feelings of most men are more reluctant to follow the dictates of the understanding, than the understanding is to follow the dictates of truth.' p. 45." Cowper says,
• He has no hope that never had a fear. Perhaps we may as justly affirm ,
• He that ne'er doubted does not yet believe. . The objections which Captain Wilson adduced against Christianity, are, at any rate, such as must be familiar to the mind of even the most superficial thinker, and they have perhaps in an indistinct form troubled the imagination of persons · wholly unaccustomed to intellectual inquiries. The present work may answer a valuable purpose, by shewing the way in which these and similar objections should be met, and in which the most unlettered Christian may safely combat the scientific infidel, and be enabled to furnish an intelligent reason of the hope that is within him. There is a large class of religious persons, who are too apt to pay very insufficient attention to the evidences of Christianity, and who therefore are not only to be considered as deficient with respect to the quality of their faith, the only proper basis of which is sufficient evidence, but who would prove feeble defenders of the truths on which they rest their hope, even should their personal belief sustain the assaults of the sceptic. The infidel doubts and secret temptations to apostacy, with which many pious persons have confessed that they have been harassed, as by the injections of an evil spirit, would, no doubt, in any cases, have been obviated by a more intelligent acquaintance with the evidences of the Christian religion. And although the testimony of the conscience to a moral transformation in the powers and affections of the soul, is the only solid basis of personal hope in reference to our religious state, yet, it is not to be doubted that by a more diligent employment of the understanding on the grounds of religion, the unwavering firmness of persuasion, so conducive to peace and elevation of mind, would be much more effectually secured.
The conversation led Captain Wilson to a thoughtful consideration of the subject of religion ; but he himself attributed the final decision of his mind, to a sermon he subsequently heard on the doctrine of predestination,--a subject which occurred to the preacher in course, but which, on the Captain's accidental entrance, he would gladly have changed. From the outlines of the sermon, which are given, it will be evident that there was nothing unsuitable in the subject, nothing in the Calvinistic exhibition of the doctrine, at variance with the conciliatory genius of the Gospel. We may still bestow on the means of the Captain's conversion, the term rational; for it was still through the understanding that the appeal was successfully made to his conscience; the principal difference between conversational discussions and the arguments adapted to the pulpit, seems to be this, that the preacher is authorized to take his stand more particularly upon Divine testimony, and to bear witness to the truth, rather than to defend it. Whatever be the means employed, the inefficiency of the most powerful argument, and of the most impassioned persuasion, to secure an adequate effect, is displayed in too large a proportion of instances. · Íbe third part of the Narrative recounts, Captain Wi's Missionary Voyage to the South Seas, as commander of the Duff; and the fourth carries on the narrative to his death. We believe there have been few men more universally respected in private life. ,
We have made no reference to the Work as a literary .
production, conceiving it to be perfectly unnecessary. Mr. Griffin has performed an acceptable service to the public; and it is one which displays his own character in a very "advantageous light, as the judicious friend of the subject of his Memoir. The volume is a very suitable present for young persons. Art. VII. Sermons ; chiefly on Devotional Subjects. By the Rev.
Archibald Bonar, Minister of Cramond. 8vo. pp. 504. Price · 10s. 6d. Underwood, 1815. W HEN the Discourses of a minister who publishes in in the early part of his ministry, come under our notice, we judge it quite necessary to examine them with a considerable degree of critical nicety. If they will not stand this test, it is natural to inquire why the author obtruded them on the public, or yielded to the solicitations of friends, who, being partial to the compositions of their own esteemed pastor, imagine that the world would sustain a loss, were they withheld from the press. Yet, where the design of publishing has been obviously good and the matter is perfectly sound, we are reluctant to suffer our critical remarks to assume an air of what might be deemed over-rigid severity. It would seem that there is a kind of sanctity attaching itself to compositions of this description, which have probably already accomplished much good by their delivery from the pulpit; which may have been the means of building up the souls of many in faith and holiness, and in preparing for the enjoynient of a blessed eternity, the spirits of many just now made perfect. On the other hand we are fully aware, that considerations even of this cautious complexion, ought not to prevent our discharging with fidelity, the duty we owe to the public, and of expressing à decided opinion in regard to the superficiality which characterizes very many of our modern sermons, whose only merit, if it may be called merit, consists in their being free from sentiments positively inimical to Christian faith and holiness. : '. Indeed, it is not only to sermons that are barely not unsound, or to those which are intended to commend themselves by their much prettiness of sentiment and floweriness of diction, and which, by their deceitful semblance to religious truth, tend to neutralize and render inoperative all that it concerns man to know and to feel;- it is not only to such effusions as these that we object : there is yet another class, that highly deserve marked disapprobation, which, though they possess a greater degree of evangelical truth, are still more directly at variance with good taste, and are scarcely more favourable to the promotion of pious reflections. Discourses
of the nature to which we allude, possess no real vitality; they abound indeed with affected feeling, and aim at speaking the language of sensibility ; but they are utterly incapable of exciting the slightest emotion. They exbibit an extravagant profusion of metaphor, and unceasing attempts at display.
We are well aware that these unpromising productions, are . the compositions of young men, at least of men whose minds have never been disciplined by deep and continued reflection, and respecting whom it may be said that they give the public the best they bave to offer. We would advise such persons not to expose unnecessarily their deficiencies in practical religion, nor indeed in literature and sound mental attainments; and before they assume by their publications the character of general teachers, to become deeply and experimentally acquainted with the practical bearings of that Divine religion into the nature of which they profess to instruct others. If they will expose their conceit and gratify their vanity at the expense of the highest interests of man, by presenting to their own congregations the mere prettinesses of sentimentality and the gaudiness of display, it is meet that they be admonished, if they have any regard to their character, or if they possess the smallest interest in the cause of religion, not to publish harangues so empty and self-sufficient.
There is a class of preachers, who excuse the extreme superficiality of their pulpit discourses, by urging the necessity of using great plainness of speech ; and who plead in their own behalf, the uneducated state of the people, and the importance of rendering religious instruction level to their comprehension. This plea might indeed be urged with some appearance of truth, were they who employ it, always as plain in their words as they are common place in their thoughts; were their style as destitute of all high-sounding epithets, as their discourses are in general of every thing but palpable truisms. This excuse we are convinced is often made as an apology for certain idle habits, which are radically injurious to the ministerial character, as well as wholly incompatible with self-improvement. Our fathers erred perhaps in secluding themselves too much from the world, in indulging a degree of abstraction from society, which diminished their usefulness; but certain we are, that they would regard the idle habits of some of their successors in the sacred office, as degrading to the ministry of the Gospel, and as directly opposed to the Apostolic injunction--" Meditate upon these things; give thyself « wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.”
We are ready to admit, that the minister ought not in every case to bear the sole blame of these idle habits. The people, by their unreasonable importunities, and the demands they are