Page images

decided piety, is well fitted to excel in the discussion of topics of a devotional and practical kind. And we do not hesitate to say, that the three books above-named are of very comprehensive utility, and will bring with them into every family, a treasury of sound ethical instruction and judicious precept.

The following is a list of the subjects of which the Author treats.

• 1. The Minister's charge to the Aged, Titus ii. 1-5. II. An old Disciple, Acts xxi. 16. III. The Character of Barzillai, 2 Sam. xix. 34–37. IV. The Claims of Widows, 1 Tim. v. 3. V. The best Sup. port in Frailty, Isa. xlvi. 4. VI. The Nearness of Salvation a Motive to Vigilance, Rom. xiii 11. VII. The Conversion of an aged Trans. gressor, 2 Chron. xxiii. 12, 13. VIII. The Benediction of the Aged, Gen. xlviii. 15, 16. IX. The Effects of Cheerfulness and Despon. dency, Prov. xvii. 22. X. Lost Opportunities deplored, Jer. viii. 20. XI. The Testimony of Christian Experience, Mark v. 18, 19. XII. The Character and Exercise of Aged Simeon, Luke ii. 25–30. XIII. On Patience, James i. 4. XIV, The Last Warning, Dan. v. 25—28. XV. The Lessons and Duties of Winter, John xi. 22. XVI. The Character and Privilege of Caleb, Numb. xiv. 24. XVII. The Feel. ings suited to our last Sacrament, Matt. xxvi. 29. XVIII. The Limits of Life, Psalm xc. 20. XIX. Dying Reflections of an aged Saint, 2 Tim. iv. 7. XX. Dying Prospects of an aged Saint, 2 Tim. iv. 8.

The object of the Author, as he informs us in the preface, was not to write a formal treatise, nor to specify all that might be necessary or useful to the old. In the subjects which he bas selected for inculcating the lessons of piety, and pressing the duties and consolations of religion on those whom he addresses, he has displayed his usual judgement and discrimination. All of these discourses are replete with evangelical sentiment, and we have been pleased with the ingenuity with which he has contrived to introduce such a multiplicity and variety of topics. There is scarcely a condition in the varying scenes of life, which he does not meet; and, though professedly addressing himself to the aged, he does not forget to apply the subject to those who are less advanced in the journey of life. Minuteness and familiarity of illustration are certainly necessary in order to extended utility among the different classes of society ; but, too often, the effect of these qualities is lessened by the coarseness and vulgarity with which they are associated. We are happy to say, that the truth and delicacy with which Dr. Belfrage pictures forth the homely scenes of domestic life, render his work equally fit for the drawing-room and the cottage. In illustrating the Lessons and Duties of Winter, he says:

• There are many whose poverty unfits them for purchasing a proper measure of fuel or clothing in a severe winter; and they must be assisted and supplied by the bounty of the humane. Go into the garret where a poor old woman sits shivering beside a few embers in her chimney. Over her withered body she has spread every rag in her dwelling, yet still she shivers. The pittance allowed her by public charity will scarcely keep her in bread and water, and she is unable to move out and to knock at the doors of the opulent. How can wealth be better employed than in giving blankets, and raiment, and food, and coals to such an object, in making her heart glad by kindness, and her habitation comfortable by a cheerful blaze? How poble is the reward to a virtuous mind, when the withered hand is lifted up to bless the benefactor, and the lustre of hope and joy brightens the sinking eye!" If I have seen any perish for want of covering, or any poor without clothing ; if his loins have not blessed me, and if he was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; then let mine arni be broken from the bone.” · Go into that dwelling where the head of a family lies on a miserable bed, struggling with disease. Medicine be cannot purchase for himself: the little money he had, when sickness came upon him, went to buy bread for his children, and now it is spent; his partner returns and tells him that her efforts and solicitations for relief have been in vain : despair crushes his heart; his children crowd together in a corner of the chamber, and clasp round each other to keep themselves warm; while one whispers to another, “ I am hungry, but I will not say so, for it will make my father weep." Let the merciful hasten to such a scene with their aid. Misery cries, “ make no tarrying."' pp. 358_-360.

The volume is highly fitted to strengthen sentiments of devotion, and to guide to the active duties of life. The Author, with just views of human nature, unites a kindly sympathy for its wants and woes. He treats of the sufferings of life neither in a strain of careless ease, nor of gloomy and austere despondency. We shall add a few sentences more, in order to give a specimen of that hortatory style which the Writer has cultivated with success, and for which he is well qualified, both by the cogent earnestress of his spirit, and the easy flow of his diction. In the sixth discourse, speaking of the unsuitableness of sloth to the prospect of aged saints, he says: .• He who has the prospect of being soon raised to some office of distinction, and which requires a variety of qualifications for the pro. per discharge of its duties, labours most assiduously to acquire these. We seek not for such a man in the scenes of thoughtless gaiety, but in the schools of wisdom and eloquence. The nearer the period of his installation arrives, the more anxious and eager is he. He seizes and improves every moment. And is your salvation near, and shall not you give all diligence to be found of your Lord in peace? You are soon to associate with those who serve God day and night in his temple; and shall (will) you now slumber! You are soon to sing the song of the Lamb; and shall you now hang your harps on the willows? You are soon to see God as he is ; and shall you now forget him? You are soon to be perfect in holiness; and shall you now be the slaves of iniquity? The bridegroom is at hand; and shall your lamps go out? Loud is the call that is addressed to you, “ Prepare to meet thy God !" and shall you say, “ My Lord delayeth his com. iog?” Glory at hand requires the full and lively exercise of grace ; and heaven opening before you demands the utmost ardour of love and praise. Beautiful was the correspondence betwixt the exercise and the situation of Stephen, as exhibited in the narrative of his death, “ But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God." ' pp. 129, 30.

We cordially recommend the book to our readers, and es. pecially to those to whom it is addressed. We know of no attempt more laudable than to prop the burden of tottering age, and to pillow up the head of the man of declining years ; and we are sure, from the spirit which this work discovers, that the Author has no higher ambition than to be useful in guiding the trembling steps of old disciples into the paths of wisdom and peace.

Art. IX. Poetical Sketches of Biblical Subjects : partly original,

parily selected from the most esteemed Poets, illustrative of the Sacred Volume. By Joseph Belcher, Author of " Interesting Narratives from the Sacred Volume.” 12mo. pp. 298. Price 5s.

London. 1825. THIS volume deserves notice among the various selections

of sacred poetry which have lately been put forth, as it has been compiled on a somewhat different plan.

• A competent judge has observed,' says Mr. Beleher, that all the books of the Bible are either most admirable and exalted pieces of poetry, or they are the best materials in the world for it. Why then have not more of our poets devoted their attention to this de partment? The few last years have witnessed an improvement in this respect, but there is yet abundant room for increased exertions in it. The volume that now solicits the candid acceptance of the reader, is a collection of the best pieces with which the Editor is acquainted, illustrative of the facts, the prophecies, and the doctrines of the inspired Book.

• In respect to the sources whence the articles have been selected, a glance at the table of contents will shew them to have been very diversified. The Editor has been more anxious respecting what he should select, than from whom. It may perhaps excite the surprise of some readers, that more has not been gleaned from the works of Vol. XXVII. N.S.

2 I

Milton, Young, Cowper, &c.; but the fact is, that these peils are 80 very generally known and possessed, that to have copied more from them than has been done, would probably have been felt as a tax on the purse of the reader, and have excited disapprobation.'

In a volume designed as a present to young persons, there ought certainly to have been a larger proportion of pieces by standard writers. One poem by Milton, and one by Cowper, will not satisfy any reader of taste. Besides, when Mr. Bel. cher asks, why more of our poets have not devoted their attention to this department, he ought not to have neglected to give specimens from the works of those who have employed their talents on biblical subjects. Blackmore, Prior, Boyce, Glynn, &c. to say nothing of our elder poels, might have been referred to with advantage, even although it might have been found necessary in that case to exclude a number of anonymous and fugitive pieces of indifferent merit. The volume is, however, so well meant, and the contents are so unexceptionable, that we shall abstain from any captious remarks on the selection. Though not entitled to rank as a class-book, for the reason above intimated, it forms a very pleasing selection of sacred poetry for young persons. From the anonymous pieces, we select the following specimen.


Exod. xii. 29, 30.
• 'Tis midnight-'tis midnight o'er Egypt's dark sky,
And in whirlwind and storm the Sirocco sweeps by ;
All arid and hot is its death-breathing blast ;-
Each sleeper breathes thick, and each bosom beats fast.
• And the young mother wakes, and starts in her rest,
And presses more closely her babe to her breast;
But the heart that she presses is death-like and still,
· And the lips that she kisses are breathless and chill.
• And the young brother clings to the elder in fear,
As the gust falls so dirge-like and sad on his ear;
But that brother returns not the trembling embrace
He speaks not-he breathes not-death Ties in his place.
. And the first-born of Egypt are dying around;
'Tis a sigh 'tis a moan--and then slumber more sound:
They but wake from their sleep, and their spirits are fled;
They but wake into life, to repose with the dead.
• And there lay the infant, still smiling in death,
Scarce heav'd its young breast as it parted with breath ;
And there lay the boy, in youth's budding bloom,
With the calmness of sleep, but the hue of the tomb ! ,

* And there fell the youth in the pride of his prime,
In the spring.tide of life, and perchance too of crime;
And unnery'd is that arm, and clos'd is that eye,
And cold is that bosom which once beat so high.
• And the fond mother's hope, and the fond father's trust,
And the widow's sole stay, are returning to dust.
Egypt has not a place where there is not one dead,
From the proud monarch's palace to penury's shed.
• And the hearths of that country are desolate now,
And the crown of her glory is struck from her brow;
But while proud Egypt trembles, still Israel is free,
Unfettered, unbound, as the wave of the sea.'

Art. X. An Answer to a printed Paper entitled, Manifesto of the

Christian Evidence Society. Published by the Society for promoting Christian Instruction. 12mo. pp. 60. Price 2d. 1827. THIS masterly tract is understood to be from the pen of the

learned Author of the “ Scripture Testimony” concerning the Person of Christ, and we rejoice that he has not thought the occasion unworthy of engaging his attention. Contemptible and worthless as the 'manifesto' is, its audacious falsehoods demanded to be promptly met and exposed, for the sake of the large class of uninformed and half-informed persons, who might be in danger of having their minds unsettled by assertions so novel and startling, and put forth with so imposing a parade of learning. It is not merely as an Answer to that paper, however, that this Tract will be found valuable. As a succinct and compendious view of the evi, dence relating to the authenticity, genuineness, and integrity of the Christian Scriptures, it cannot be too widely circulated. A mass of the most important information, of an bistorical nature, is here presented in a brief and popular form, admirably adapted to the class of readers for whom it is more especially designed. At a time that all kinds of useful knowledge are, with wonderful ingenuity, facilitated, cheapened, and multiplied to an indefinite degree, by the various institutions and improved machinery of the day, it becomes the friends of Religion not to slumber at their posts. Jejune, prosing, and insipid tracts on religious subjects, will not meet the exigencies of the times ; nor will stories and anecdotes, however striking, supply the place of clear and concise statement, lucid argument, and distinct information. We are glad to find that a Society has been formed' for promoting Chris. *tian instruction,' although we know nothing of its character

- 2 I 2

« PreviousContinue »