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the importance of communicating to their children, not education merelv, but an education that shall constantly remind them that they are rational and immortal beings; and that they are depraved and guilty sinners that need the salvation which can only be obtained through the mediation of Jesus Christ. He then points out the most prevailing •bstacles to success in the religious education of children. These are so important that we shall mention the heads of them. It is frequently too negligently and capriciously maintained, even where it is not totally omitted.— The relaxation of domestic disciplineundue severity—the inconsistent conduct of parents—the wild conduct of an elder branch of the family, especially in the case of a dissipated son—bad companions—the schisms that sometimes arise in our churches, and embitter the minds of Christians against each other— the neglect of young persons by our churches and pastors—the spirit of filial independence. These topics suggest many important remarks, and generally we could have wished his illustrations longer than they are. No parent, however, can read this address without profit.
A passage in this enumeration of topics included in the address to parents, will have suggested to the reader, that - Mr. James has written his book principally for the use of Dissenters; and he will not proceed Far in the volume, before he discovers that the work is designed for the juvenile classes among the Pajdobaptists. We can forgive Mr. James, when, with his views of Infant Baptism, he says to his children: "You are the property of the church. It has a claim upon you. Will ye not own and discharge it? Must we see the walls of the spiritual house mouldering away, and you, the rightful materials with which it should be repaired, withheld V This, we say, we will forgive in Mr. James, though we hardly like unregeneratc persons being considered " the property of the church" ofChrist, which we have been accustomed to regard as altogether of a spiritual nature. But what shall we think of his wishing to introduce a new ordinance into the church? Not confirmation, hut something "in lieu of it." Our readers shall have the passage which has excited our fears. Having mentioned as an obstacle to the success of religious education, tltenegkct
of young persons by our churches and their pastors, he thus proceeds—
"This, however, ,does not so much appertain to parents in their separate capacity, as in their relation as members of a Christinn society; and even in this relation it belongs less to them than their pastors. There is a blank yet to be filled up in reference to the treatment of the young, who are not in church communion. As a dissenter, I object of course to the rite of Confirmation as practised in the Established Church; but we want something, I will not say like it, but in lieu of it. We want something that shall recognise the young, interest them, attract them, guard them."
We really hope that Mr. James wrote this passage in a dream, and that in the hurry of preparing his work for the press lie forgot to look it over. For surely had he given it a second glance, it would have struck him as a reflection on the character of Christ as Ring in Zion, for not instituting some such ordinance as the one that Mr. James seems to wish introduced. Certainly confirmation is as scriptural as infant baptism; and we would earnestly advise him, if he cannot conscientiously practice the one, to reexamine if he has good authority for the administration of the other. For our own parts we have nothing to suggest to our author that will help him out 01 the difficulty, except it be to advise him to persevere in instructing the young by lectures, meeting them apart from the older persons in his congregation, and adapting his addresses to their stations and circumstances: a practice that we have heard Mr. James has long been engaged in, and give up all ideas of Infant Baptism and Confirmation, till he has a clear revelation of the will of Christ authorizing him to practise them. But our readers will begin to think that we have dwelt too long in the porch of the building, and have prevented them from contemplating the interior. The work is divided into twenty-five chapters, the titles of which follow—On the anxiety of a Christian Parent for the spiritual welfare of his children.—On the disposition with which we should enter upon an enquiry into the nature of religion.—On right sentiments ot religion.—On the nature of true religion. —On the advantages and responsibility of a pious education.—On the most prevailing obstacles which prevent young people from entering on a religious lite. —Onthedcceitfulness of the heart.—On CHRISTIAN FATHER'S PRESENT.
transient devotions.—On decision of character in matters of religion.—On the pleasures of a religious life.—On the advantages of early piety.—On the influence of religion upon the temporal interests of its possessor.—On the choice of companions.—On books.—On amusements and recreations.—On theatrical amusements.—On the period which elapses between the time of leaving school, ancl the age of manhood.—rOn public spirit.—On female accomplishments, virtues, and pursuits.—On prudence, modesty, and courtesy.—On redeeming time.—On the obligation to enter into fellowship with a Christian church.—On the choice of a companion for life.—On keeping in view the great end of life.—On the meeting of a pious family in heaven.
Our readers will easily conceive that these subjects, present to a man like Mr. James a fine opportunity of saying many things of first rate importance; and we assure them the opportunity has not been misimproved. Speaking of the consolations imparted by religion, he says—
"In the hour of misfortune, when a man, once in happy circumstances, sits down amidst the wreck of all his comforts, and sees nothing but the fragments of his fortune for his wife and family, what, in this storm of affliction, is to cheer him but religion; and this can do it, and enable him to say, 'although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet will I rejoice in the Lord, 1 will joy in the God of my salvation.' What but religion can comfort the poor labourer in that gloomy season, when times are bad, and work is scarce, and he hardly knows where to procure his next meal? What can comfort the suffering female in that long and dreadful season, when, wasting away in a deep decline, she lies, night after night, consumed by fever, and day after day convulsed with coughing? Tell me, what can send a ray of comfort to her dark scene of woe, or a drop of consolation to her parched and thirsty lips, but religion? And when the agonized parent, with a heart half broken by the conduct of a prodigal son, exclaims, ' Oh! who can tell how sharper than a serpent's tooth it is, to have a thankless child!' What, in that season of torture, can pour a drop of balm into the wounded spirit but religion? And when we occupy the bedside of a
departing friend, 'the dreadful post of observation darker every hour,' what but religion can sustain the mind, and calm the tumult of the soul? what, but this, can enable us to bear with even tolerable composure the pang of separation? And we too must die: and here is the excellence of piety; it follows us, where no other friend can follow us, down into the dark valley of the shadow of death; stands by us when the last hand has quitted its grasp, reserves its mightiest energies for that most awful conflict, presents to the eye of faith the visions of glory rising up beyond the sepulchre, and angels advancing to receive us from the hand of earthly friends to bear us to the presence of a smiling God."
Urging the importance of an attention to religion, from the influence it has on the temporal interests of its possessor, and shewing how it elevates and purifies the mind; after a reference to its effects on the Negroes of the West Indies, the Hottentots of South Africa, the Esquimaux of Labrador, the fur clad Greenlanders of the arctic regions, and the voluptuous cannibals of the South Sea Islands, he thus proceeds—
"But why do I go to distant countries, while our own furnishes illustrations so numerous and so striking? How many persons are there, who were educated in our Sunday Schools, and who are now filling stations of importance, credit, and usefulness, who, but for religion, would never have risen in the scale of society, or ascended above the lowest level of poverty. Education, it is true, gave thefir^t impulse to their minds; but it was an impulse which would have soon spent its force, had it not been continued and increased by religion. It was this that gave the sober, serious, and reflective turn of mind which has led to such mental improvement; and they who, but for the power of godliness, would have been still earning their bread at the plough or the anvil, are tilling the place of tradesmen or clerks; or are raised to the distinction of preaching with ability and success the truths of salvation." So true it is, that " godliness hath the promise of this life, as well as that which is to come." But we cannot afford room to quote all the passages we had marked for that purpose, and must therefore only introduce two or three short ones, on subjects of the utmost moment. On the subject of the effect produced by associating with improper persons, our author has this just and pointed language, which we earnestly entreat our young readers to consider with attention
"In the large and populous town where Providence has fixed my lot, I have had an extensive sphere of observation; and I give it as my decided conviction and deliberate opinion, that improper associates are the most successful means which are employed by Satan for the ruin of men's souls."
On the character of Novels, and the effect they are calculated to produce, he has the following strong, but appropriate remarks—
"As to that class of books denominated Novels, I join "with every moral and religious writer in condemning, as the vilest trash, the greater part of the productions, which, under this name, have carried a turbid stream of vice over the morals of mankind. They corrupt the taste, pollute the heart, debase the mind, immoralize the conduct. They throw prostrate the understanding, sensualize the affections, enervate the will, and bring all the high faculties of the soul into subjection to an imagination, which they have first made wild, insane, and uncontrolable. They furnish no ideas, and generate a morbid, sickly sentimentalism, instead of a just and lovely sensibility. A wise man should despise them, and a good man should abhor them. Of late years they have, it is true, undergone a considerable reformation. The present Extraordinary FaVourite of the literary world, has indeed displaced, and sent into oblivion, a thousand miserable scribblers of love stories, who still however fling back at him, as they retire, the ancient taunt, 'Art thou too become as one of us?' His works discover prodigious talent, astonishing information, and a power of delineating character truly wonderful. But what is their merit beyond a power to amuse 1 Whoever wrote so much, for so little real usefulness? They are still, in part, works of fiction; and in measure, exert the same unfriendly influence on the public mind and taste, as other works of fiction do."
The Theatre is severely reprobated, and shewn, by the most unanswerable arguments, to be opposed to the religion ofthe Bible, and extremely dangerous to the morals of youth. We had marked one or two passages in the chapter on this subject for extract, but we must forbear. The chapter on female accomplishments in the second volume, we consider as one of the very best in the work, but we must not trust ourselves to quote from it, but earnestly recommend it to our female friends, to whom we will just say, what Mr. James advises them—
"Make up your mind deliberately to j this opinion, and abide by it, that what [is j
useful is infinitely to be preferred to what is dazzling; and virtuous excellence to be more ardently coveted than fashionable accomplishments. A right aim is of unspeakable consequence. Whatever we propose, as the grand paramount object, will form' the character. We shall subordinate every thing else to it: and be this jour aim, to excel rather in the solid and useful attainments, than in external showy decorations."
But other works claim our regard, and we must, for the present, take our farewell of Mr. James j which we do with expressions of sincere esteem, for the addition lie has made to our stock of juvenile publications. But before we part, we must beg of Mr. James, when his work goes to a second edition, to correct the name of the respectable Theological Tutor of the Wymondley Academy, and author of "Studies in History." His name is Thomas Morell, not S. Morrell. We had rather also, that when speaking of the third person in the Trinity, Mr. J. would call him the Holy Spirit, instead of Holy Ghost. This last is an old Saxon word, and nearly obsolete, except in the silly tales of apparitions. And finally, it would be well if a second edition ofthe work could be sold at a somewhat less price, as it would make it more extensively known. Surely nine shillings is too much for about four hundred and fifty duodecimo pages I If Mr. James was a needy writer we would say nothing about it; but the God of providence has liberally blest him with the good things of this life, and he requires not the profits arising from his work to obtain an addition to his comforts. ' We have no reason to charge him with avaricious motives; but believe the fixing so high a price on his work must have been an oversight, which we have no doubt will be soon corrected.
The Spirit of Unitarian Christianity.—A
Sermon delivered at the opening of the
Finsbury Unitarian Chapel, on Sunday,
February 1st, 18-24: to which is prefixed
an Address, delivered on laying the first
Stone of the Chapel, on Thursday, May
22, 1823. By W. J. Fox. London,
Fox & Co. 33, Threadneedle-street.
Casting an eye lately over the
columns of one of our leading Monthly
Journals, we were not a little surprized
at meeting with a singularly high
FOXS ADDRESS AND SERMON.
wrought panegyric, somewhat in the quality of a puff-direct, of the author of this Sermon. He was held up to view as one of the most eloquent preachers in the metropolis—surpassing, as we recollect, even Mr. Irving himself! Having never been privileged with an opportunity of knowing this prodigy ex cathedra, our curiosity was not a little excited; and hearing that a fine new chapel had lately been erected for the display of his oratorical talents, near Finsbury Square, we had almost determined on visiting it, when the sermon now before us attracted our notice in a bookseller's window. We, therefore, availed ourselves of the treasure, and hastened home, expecting a high gratification from its perusal.
On opening its pages our attention was first arrested by "An Address," delivered by the preacher on laying the foundation stone of this Unitarian Chapel. At the head of this Address stands, as a motto, the following text of Scripture :—" There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."
Commenting on these words, Mr. W. J. Fox informs us, that "this is the genuine apostles' creed," in the faith of which they were about to erect "a Christian temple for the worship of the 'Universal Parent." He then adverts to a few texts of Scripture which assert the unity of the Godhead, and passes on to explain to us the mediation of Christ, of which his text speaks. "He ransomed us," says he, "by his exertions, sufferings, and resurrection, from the bondage of doubt, idolatry, and vice. And thus he ransomed all: for his religion, the truth of nature, confirmed, illustrated, and extended by Revelation, is pursuing lts predicted course to universal empire here, and Scripture testifies, that ultimately the whole creation shall be made free with the glorious liberty of the sons of God."
Now, were we of Mr. Fox's creed— were we of the number of those, who account it downright idolatry to worship Jesus Christ as God, we should really be very much perplexed to make out the grounds of this boasting of the triumphs °t what they call the cause of truth; we should be obliged by all that we read, and see,and hear, to come to a very different conclusion, and to say that the
cause of idolatry was demonstrably upon the increase 1 But not to interrupt the eluquent preacher, let us notice how he proceeds:
"May the building which we raise, be as a fortress for the defence of these simple, holy, and animating truths! Here, in their behalf, may we buckle on the whole armour of God, and go forth to the righteous conflict which we have to sustain! For ours is a state of warfare—of warfare with the corruption that makes religion the drudge of worldly policy; with the spiritual tyranny that demands the prostration of the understanding at his feet, and would bind the freemen of Christ in the fetters of human creeds; with the scepticism that would quench the torch that alone can light us through the shades of death j with the prejudice that doubts whether any good thing can come out of the Nazareth of Unitarianism; with the credulity that, for the simple faith and worship of the Gospel, receives a system at which 'reason stands aghast, and faith herself is half confounded;' with the bigotry that, reversing the miracle proposed to Christ, transforms the bread of life itself into stones, wherewith to wound or slay the brother who offends by diversity of opinion; and with the superstition which makes faith or ceremony, instead of holiness, the passport to future blessedness. With these we wage an everlasting conflict, and the prize of our victory is the emancipation of the human race."
All this to be sure is very fine, but then it is very foolish. How easy would it be to retort all these vile insinuations upon the Socinians, and to prove them the very persons who need deliverance from these evils. But let us hear how he proceeds—
"Here may the ignofant, the poor, the friendless, seek the God of light and consolation, 'whose tender mercies are over all his works,' and whom they shall not seek in vain!
"Here may the child of sorrow drink of the waters of life, and renew his strength, and behold bright glimpses of Almighty love beaming athwart the clouds that overshadow the path of his pilgrimage, and look through the mist of tears to the lovely regions of immortality!
"Here may the wanderer, entangled in the wilderness of doubt and error, hail the day-spring on high of Christian truth, and regain the path of peace, and find rest unto his soul!
"Here may the victim of fanaticism, the slave of terror, learn to think better of his God: and as he beholds the caprice and vengeance which he has ascribed to the
Deity (to his own dismay and despair) fading before the mild glories of paternal love, may he receive, 'not the spirit of bondage, again to fear, but the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father!"' This last paragraph reminds us of a fine passage in Young's Satires, where speaking of certain persons who, like Mr. Fox, allow no other standard for the character of the Deity than their own •depraved judgment, thus proceeds—
"He's like themselves, or how could he be good?
Ami they blaspheme who blacker schemes suppose.
Devoutly thus Jehovah they depose,
The pure, the just, anil set up In his slead,
A Dairv That's rEBrECTLV Wexl oatD."
This is precisely the case with Mr. Fox and his friends; they measure the character of the great God by their own: and thus they fancy him to be "alto• gether such an one as themselves." But we must treat our readers with a few more of the gems of this pamphlet. We must all admit that the following is exquisitely pretty!
«' May the holy train of Christian graces, —Sympathy wiping away the tears of grief, Patience bowing meekly'to the will of Heaven, Devotion holding high communion with the Omnipresent, Gratitude faithfully and deeply tracing the record of bounties, Resignation looking from the grave with tearful eye to heaven, Integrity moving along her narrow path with fixed eye and undeviating step, and Charity with glowing heart and liberal hand,— hither repair, and here make their permanent abode!
Then follows a fine apostrophe to the "Hearers of Winchester, who yet survive, and in whose hearts and eyes the animation of youth rekindles, when you remember how the apostle of benevolence came, proclaiming " God is love," and tracing that principle, with glowing eloquence, to its glorious results (the universal salvation of men and devils !.') Hearers of Vidler, to whom his clear and nervous reasoning first demonstrated the kindred truth that God is one, and who will long mournfully cherish the remembrance of his'vigorous mind : you have seen, in the indication which this event affords of the progress to maturity of the society whose infancy they cherished ; and in the evidence which every day affords of the wide diffusion of their principles and ours, a sight which would have gladdened them, and in the enjoyment of which we are entering into their labours."
Mow we must tell Mr. Fox, that all
this is VAPOUR; the principles to •
The Sermon, which follows the Address, has for its motto, Rom. viii. 9: "Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." In discussing his subject, the preacher's object is to show the affinity, of rather identity of primitive Christianity and modern Unitarianism. To us, however, the point does not appear to be very clearly made out; and indeed the whole Sermon, even upon the principles of Unitarianism itself, is a poor affair. We shall lay before our readers one quotation, from what is called the peroration, or summing up of the whole discourse. It is absolutely a curiosity; and when our readers look at the length of the sentence, beginning, "And were it needful," &c. they surely cannot wonder that the preacher should have run himself out of breath, and closed abruptly.
"We are strong in the plain and literal declarations of the New Testament; but we are yet stronger in the sameness of the general impression made by Christianity and Unitarianism as to the moral qualities with which these declarations are associated in the teacher's mind, and which they are designed to produce in the convert. The machinery is the same; the object the same: our system has the spirit of Christ, and is his, and Christianity is Unitarianism. And were it needful to illustrate this practically, not hard would be the task; for men who have had M abiding and universal sense of the Bini*