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At the hour of eve, when daylight is gloaming,
Attuning the heart for devotion and prayer.
And ripples are crowning thy deep azure breast,
That moment, that hour, my Saviour adoring,
The God of my youth, my Protector, my Guide;
W. E. S.
Christian Converse whilst Journeying to a better Country. By WILLIAM GILES, of Seacombe, Liverpool. London: W. Foster, 6, Amen Corner, Paternoster Row. 12mo; pp. 188.
THE letters of christian friends often afford the opportunity of conveying such thoughts that they might find it difficult through timidity to communicate, even by the word of mouth. At the same time, it must ever be remembered, that there is much greater room for the display of hypocrisy by letter, than by personal communication. We have known several instances of individuals, whose letters seem to be most weighty and experimental, and yet on more intimate acquaintance, we have had reason to conclude that the root of the matter was not in them. Notwithstanding these disappointments, we still often find much profit from christian converse by letters, and we doubt not but that the reader would glean some sweet morsels from this little work. It seems to consist of letters written to friends, without any intention of their being published. "As iron sharpeneth iron, so doth the countenance of a man his friend”—and we have constant need, by the Lord's blessing, of this sharpening work.
Little Books for Little Children. London: Charles Haselden, 21, Wigmore-street.
WE must warn our readers against the trash contained in these and similar little books. Children are not too young to be hurt by poison in the shape of bread; and the greatest mischief has followed from allowing the minds of young persons to be tampered with, by reading prettily-written books which contain veins of error, particularly of the Puseyitical, Tractarian, or Popish character. The little works before us are not, indeed, of this kind, but whilst professing to be full of Scripture, they in fact teach the children to tell lies, by causing them to apply to themselves those passages which belong only to the spiritual children of God.
The First Day Sabbath not of Divine Appointment. By H. C. WRIGHT, Glasgow. 12mo.; pp. 48.
On the whole we feel this to be a dangerous publication, and must therefore warn the readers against it, lest, as the Devil beguiled Eve, so their hearts should be ensnared. On the other hand, we are far, very far, from agreeing with his opponents, who wish to engraft on the Lord's-day all the strictness of the Jewish Sabbath. We certainly object to the application of the word "Sabbath" to our Sunday, which we would rather call the Lord's-day, and which we decidedly do not consider as taking the place of the Jewish Sabbath. The antitype of the Sabbath is not our Lord's-day, but that rest into which Jesus entered after he had finished that work which he came to perform; and to which his people also enter when believing, they do enter into rest. (See Heb. iv.) We are told that the law was a shadow of good things to come;" and it is, therefore, an important inquiry of "What was the fourth commandment a shadow?" We are bold to say that none can assert it was a shadow of our day of rest; at the same time we do consider that there is sufficient indirect Scriptural evidence that the first day of the week was usually observed` by Christians as a day of cessation from worldly toil and pursuits, in order that they might have the better opportunity of testifying their professed subjection to the Lord. It is not intended to be a day of slavish obedience, but a day of liberty in the Lord. We should very much doubt the Christianity of that man who habitually despised and neglected the practical honouring of the Lord's-day. We consider it a boon from Heaven to man-a privilege highly valued by the Lord's children. As to the mode and extent of its observance let every Christian man be fully persuaded in his own mind; only let him observe it in the Lord, and not despise his brother, who may somewhat differ from him in its outward observance.
We have no wish to force religion on the world, and therefore desire no other restrictions to be put upon them in this respect than those which are absolutely necessary for the protection of those who
desire to observe it, and therefore we do not agree with the outcry made about Sunday travelling, &c. We would check it so as to keep it within due bounds, but do not see it to be either wise or practicable altogether to stop it. We have spoken at greater length than we should have, because a correspondent particularly wished an opinion on this pamphlet. If we may be allowed the expression, we would say its Author has caught a truth and almost worried it to death. May the Lord keep us with a single eye, and then it will be our privilege and pleasure to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. Charles Simeon, M.A. Edited by the Rev. WILLIAM CARUS, M.A. London: Hatchard and Son. 8vo.; pp. 848.
FORMER associations made us very desirous to read this work, and it has been with mingled feelings of pleasure and regret that we have done so. The writer of this review, on going to Cambridge, was as ignorant of the Scriptures and of gospel truth as any one could possibly be. Providential circumstances threw him at once into the company of those who attended Mr. Simeon's ministry, and he never can forget the astonishment he felt on first hearing such novel statements as they were to him. However, after a few months, the impression entirely wore off, with the exceptions of occasional qualms of conscience. After an interval of about eighteen months, it pleased God, perfectly independent of the ministry of any one, to produce in his heart the mightiest change that ever could be produced; viz., the being born again. This led to the resumption of his former acquaintances, and consequently to the attending of Mr. Simeon's ministry, which undoubtedly was the source of the greatest blessing and furtherance in gospel truths; at the same time there were often statements brought forward by Mr. Simeon, both in public and in private, with which the writer could not coincide, and often expressed his dissent to Mr. Simeon himself. This arose chiefly from an attempt to carry out a thought which Mr. Simeon often expressed; viz., to guard the gospel. Now, we conceive that the gospel needs no guarding by man. It is well, indeed, to give the flat contradictions to those assertions and consequences that human reason might assert to flow from the doctrines of grace: for this, we find, the Holy Ghost led the apostle to do in the Epistle to the Romans. If Mr. Simeon preached a clear faithful gospel in the morning, he was almost sure to preach an opposite one in the evening, in order, as he would say, to guard the full statement of the morning from being abused. We certainly consider it somewhat to impugn the wisdom of God when men attempt to guard and explain away truths which our God has openly and plainly revealed.
From our own personal knowledge, as well as from the reading of this life, we have come to the conclusion that one great and leading
defect in Mr. Simeon's life was an attempt to get the world to fall in love with the gospel, or so to state gospel truths, that they should not offend the worldly wise and prudent. Most certainly Mr. Simeon often succeeded in this, and seems to glory in it. Notwithstanding we do not class him with those who pretend to be his followers, and who imitate his defects, but utterly disregard that which was good in him. We most fully believe Mr. Simeon to have been a child of God, and and a minister of God, but his ministry seems to have been more adapted to the babes in Christ than to those who were more advanced in the knowledge of their God and Saviour. During the latter part of his life he reached the highest pinnacle of popularity, and this is a dizzy height that few can attain to without suffering from it, and from all that we can gather, we certainly conclude that the earthen vessel was much marred towards the close of life, but still not so marred as to hinder it from still conveying the heavenly treasure, to the comfort and refreshment of many of the Lord's pilgrims. It will probably be asked by some, "Why do you thus find fault with Mr. Simeon, when you cannot but own him as a minister of God?" To this we answer, not so much on account of Mr. Simeon, but because of that party of which he is considered the head, and by whom he is referred to as an infallible oracle, although we fully believe that Mr. Simeon would be most thoroughly ashamed of many of those who call themselves his followers. We have heard that Huntington once observed that he well knew that after his death a sect would arise called the Huntingtonians, but of many of whom he should be thoroughly ashamed. So also Simeon would be of the Simeonites. One great device of the devil, during these last hundred years, seems to have been to fritter away and dilute the gospel statement; and he certainly has most singularly succeeded, since the general professing church of the present day has scarcely a trace left of the family likeness of the professing church of the days of Toplady, Romaine, &c. Mr. Simeon often remarked that when he found a Calvinistic text he preached a Calvinistic sermon, but when he found an Arminian text he preached an Arminian sermon. Now, though we can find no Arminian text in the Bible, yet we must allow that usually when Mr. Simeon took a Calvinistic text he did preach a Calvinistic sermon, except when he attempted to guard the gospel. But it is not so with his followers, for they either never manage to find a Calvinistic text, or when they do, they try to put the Arminian poison into it. We are reminded of another remark that we heard Mr. Simeon make use of, and in which we often thought there was much wisdom; viz., "There is abundance of meat in the word of God for the children of God to feed on, and there are plenty of bones for quarrelsome dogs to fight over." Now, as dogs are certainly almost universally Arminians, it is no marvel if they are ever looking out for a contentious bone. Difficult passages and dark sayings are scattered through the Bible, "But," says the Lord, "My words
are plain to him that understandeth." But who understand except those to whom the Lord gives the seeing eye, the hearing ear, and the understanding heart. When these mercies are bestowed, then former difficulties are soon cleared up. That I have not overstrained Mr. Simeon's predeliction for Arminianism will appear by the following extract from a letter to the Bishop of Llandaff, May 10th, 1822:"My object in printing the sermon preached before the University is to give to Calvinism, as an exclusive system, a blow which I am not aware it has ever yet received." Again, from another letter in 1825:"Here are two extremes, Calvinism and Arminianism (for you need not be told how long Calvin and Arminius lived before St. Paul) 'How do you move in reference to these, Paul? In a golden mean?' 'No.' 'In one extreme?' 'No. "How then?' To both extremes: to-day I am a strong Calvinist; to-morrow a strong Arminian.' Well, well, Paul, I see thou art beside thyself; go to Aristotle, and learn the golden mean.' 'But, my brother, I am unfortunate; I formerly read Aristotle, and liked him much; I have since read Paul, and caught somewhat of his strange notions ossillating (not vacillating from pole to pole.) Sometimes I am a high Calvinist, at other times a low Arminian, so that if extremes will please you, I am your man; only remember it is not one extreme that we are to go to, but both extremes." We give an extract of a letter to his own bishop, in 1809:-" Indeed, it appears to me, my lord, that the very same doctrines may be useful or pernicious, according as they are stated in a way crude and rash, or qualified and cautious." Did conversion depend upon the persuadible words of man's wisdom, then qualifications and cautions might be most needful, but conversion is the Lord's work alone, according to his own sovereign will and pleasure. We are to preach the gospel, according to the ability the Lord gives, but we should ever bear in mind it has been and ever must be foolishness to the worldly wise, and that none will ever fall in love with the gospel till the Lord has drawn them with the cords of love. (See 1 Cor. i and ii. throughout.) How often do we hear of missionaries being sent out to convert the Heathen, Jews, &c.; but how incorrect and unscriptural is such an assertion. We are to preach the gospel to men, and that is all we can do; but conversion is solely of the Lord. "Then will I teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto thee." We find Mr. Simeon falls into this mistake, especially with reference to his favourite subject the Jews.
Mr. Simeon was born at Reading, 1759, and was educated at Eton, where he was extravagant and thoughtless. He went to King's College, Cambridge, in January, 1779, and was informed soon after, that he was to attend the Lord's Supper in three weeks time. This led to serious inquiry, and a deep conviction of his own unworthiness insomuch that he said Satan was as fit to attend as he was. A work