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" Why don't
you write religious books ?” says Mr. Wondermuch. Answer: I have written many, and they are out of print. I have many others in manuscript, but when I find that some who are accustomed to read and write such books are so queer and eccentric in their doings as to need hints in a new fashion, I furnish them. The best religious book in the world is the Bible, that I can enjoy. I see in it righteous protestations against all transgressions of the laws of God, but no censoriousness, no formidable animadversions upon trifles, gloomy lectures and denunciations against words or actions that have neither good nor evil in them, being things indifferent; no reproaches cast upon some men for infirmities, and passing by others who omit the weighty matters of the law.
Censorious religionists, whether in books or speeches, have kept many a good man in bondage; made him afraid to look or speak, in certain places or companies where, though he does no harm, the prying eye of the pragmatical censurer would soon bring him into trouble. Give me religious books on Bible principles, and I can appreciate and relish them. If I want other religious books, I can make
them myself, whether I print them, or keep them in manuscript. Let the young, the middle aged, and the old, by all means read religious books when they help them to understand and love the Bible; but when religious books teach only a one-sided Christianity, men who wish to get to heaven don't want them; they prefer a book which teaches them their duty to God and man, to their friends and to their enemies in its whole extent, and in all its details. A book that shews up the evil, and wickedness and danger of all evil judging, evil speaking, lying and slandering, whispering and backbiting; the comprehensive sin, and wide-spreading mischief of censoriousness in all its ramifications; the unseemliness and guilt of cultivated rudeness and insolence to the ministers of the gospel; the ruthlessness of torturing the feelings of good men for very trifles; the ignominy of detraction ; the hypocrisy of pious persecution; the tattle and prattle of busybodyism—and the fact that the holiest and the best of ministers in apostolic times were often annoyed and plagued by false brethren in the churches, as well as afterwards put to death by their declared enemies, among the people we call “ the world.”
Ordinary religious books, good enough as far as they go, do but too often keep on the surface of the above-mentioned evils. l'he noble minded Dr. Barrow, in his ten sermons on evil-speaking, goes to the bottom of them. But seeing that books like his are seldom read by those who most need them, I
think it possible that a queer outlandish affair like mine
may have some good effect. () the sufferings and agonies endured by ministers falsely called eccentric! O the ingratitude of men, who, after repeatedly acknowledging the large amount of instruction, yea, and the happy seasons of devotional enjoyment they have had under their preachings, shall turn round upon them for mere nothings, that their imaginations construe into faults or sins, or from the influence of lying reports, and turn them adrift, not heeding what becomes of them or their families ! Ah! don't talk to me about the deep piety and gravity of men who can be guilty of such things. God give to all such men true repentance and his holy spirit, and the piety of the New Testament, which is the only proper and safe substitute for the pitiful thing they have got, and which they dignify with the name of piety. Thomas â Kempis was right when he said “Censoriousness and Christian piety can never dwell together.” And now lest it should be thought that in the these strictures I am myself censorious, I beg to say that I am not. I am justly blaming great sins.
Censoriousness reproves, reprimands, and sometimes brands publicly a man with infamy for no real sin at all. It is a disposition to reproach, and a habit of reproaching. In nearly all the acceptations of the word as given by our most eminent lexicographers, it bears this sense.
I have not quoted a sermon of Dr. Barrows, on Matt. vii. 1, because, on the subject now under consideration, it is so masterly, eloquent and powerful throughout, that had I touched it for the purpose of quotation, I must have taken the whole. But let all who need it take the physic I have offered, and should they ask for more they shall have it. Let all injured ministers rise up in one body, and attack this monster vice, and by the power of God, truth and the energy of Christian zeal, drive it, if possible, from the face of the earth.
A SHORT time ago we bid good night to Mrs. Gloomy, after our evening's entertainment with the good man of " great powers.” We now resume the subject of conversation, or rather the topic which we entitle conversation ; and we shall introduce some notables. Dr. Chalmers, in one of his journals or letters says, “Irving and I went to Bedford-square. Mr. and Mrs. Montague took us out in their carriage to Highgate, where we spent three hours with the great Coleridge. He lives with Dr. and Mrs. Gilman, on the same footing that Cowper did with the Unwins. His conversation, which flowed in a mighty unremitting stream, is most astonishing, but I must confess, to me still unintelligible. I caught occasional glimpses of what he would be at, but mainly he was very far out of all sight and all sympathy. You know that Irving sits at his feet and drinks in the inspiration of every syllable that falls from him. There is a secret, and to me as yet unintelligible, communion of spirit betwixt them on the ground of a certain German mysticism, and transcendental lake poetry which I am not yet up to. Gordon says it is all unintelligible nonsense, and I am sure a plain Fife man, as uncle • Tammas,' had