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purifies and enlarges the imagination, poetry is dead and unintelligible to him whose imagination is not in an active state. To understand questions of duty, it is not enough for the intellect to examine them, but the moral faculties must be alive and active. So in order to understand these great doctrines of religion and of God, they must be be studied with a devout and reverential mind. To discover and appreciate them, much more is necessary than a mere cold intellectual criticism and examination. As well might you attempt to discover the life in the green foliage of the summer trees by means of frost. Still less are these doctrines to be studied in a controversial spirit. Error may be done away, but it may be doubted whether truth is often much advanced, by controversy.
Those who have
done most to promote Christian truth, have in general done it in quiet and in silence. In retired studies, in devout meditations, when the soul was full of the divine presence, as to the patriarch in the midnight plain of Haran, as to the prophet in his solitary cave, the vision and the voice have come to them. After they have once entered fully into the storm and strife of controversy, they have made little advance in truth, and far more often have turned and warped the truth they had before gained into error. Controversy seems to paralyze the faculties which are necessary really to understand spiritual truth. The clang and jar of earthly passions confuse and bewilder the harmonies that come from heaven. Not long ago on leaving a place in the evening, where contested views of religion had been brought forward, our road led us along a hill-side, below which, in the valley, a river spreading itself out and gleaming darkly like a mirror, wound still and slow. As we looked down upon it, the stars were seen reflected from its surface the vast concave of heaven imaged below, like that which was arched above. But presently the slightest breath of wind, so slight that it could scarcely be felt as it rustled past, ruffled the stream, and the sky beneath was at once gone, and the reflection was no longer as if the stars were shining up out of an infinite deep, but as if they were merely glittering spangles scattered in confusion over the stream. A little breath of wind, and the beauty and glory and grandeur were alike gone. But on looking upward, there was quite another scene.
Over the western
hills shone with lustrous beams, the planet "that rules the evening hour." Turning a little, and the northern star might be seen, holding its place, steadfast as the pole. Though winds might blow and tempest beat all around us on the earth, whoever looked should see them fixed. Nay, at that moment, on the tossing seas, from a thousand unsteady decks, mariners were looking up at these undying lights, and by their unfailing flames guiding themselves across the deep. But they were steadfast and immovable, not to those who looked down to their shifting reflection in the waves below, but to those who looked up to them in the skies above. He that would see them as they are, and be guided by them, must look up. It seemed to us that it was a commentary on the way in which we should look at the great doctrines of religion. Look down and see them as they are reflected in the great sea of human controversy, and as that reflection is broken and disturbed by gusts of human passion, and nothing can be more bewildering and deluding. But look up, and there they shine, with unchanging beams, the very lights of heaven, forever. It is the devout mind, humbly and reverently looking upward, opening the soul, not to the reflected, but to the direct beams of truth, that sees them in their true position, and feels their power. The devout and trusting mind that most reverently looks to God, and most seriously seeks His will, is the one that is best prepared to understand the truths of God.
Think not lightly then of the doctrines of Christianity. They are the foundation, as of rock, which should lie under all morality. They enforce and dignify the humblest moral duties with divine motives, and guide their performance with divine light. They show the beneficent uses of sorrow, and make it appear that suffering for conscience' sake is not a wild enthusiasm, but a divine wisdom. They touch and hallow humble scenes, by connecting them with God. They give another world to reason and to faith, and heavenly visions to the hopes of man. They come with help to the tempted, the penitent, and forsaken. And when in desolation and mourning we lay the bodies of those we love, in their last resting-place, we do not, like those of old, light a lamp in the tomb, to shine with dim, perpetual rays on the relics of death, and the symbols of despair; for over the tomb, and in the heavens, shines the light of faith, by which we read of a resurrection. E. P.
NOTICES OF RECENT PUBLICATIONS.
Theory of Morals: An Inquiry concerning the Law of Moral Distinctions, and the Variations and Contradictions of Ethical Codes. By RICHARD HILDRETH. Boston: Little & Brown. 1844. 12mo. pp. 272.
This work is the fruit of considerable reading and reflection, and bears the marks on almost every page of a becoming aversion to disguise or subterfuge. Here our commendation must stop. As its author does not hesitate to stigmatize the theories of morals in the highest repute as worthless or worse than worthless, and comes before the public, moreover, in the attitude of a denier, if not of a reviler, of those things which ninety-nine in a hundred of this public account most sacred, he must not wonder or complain if he does not receive a very hearty, or a very gracious welcome. For ourselves, after having bestowed as much attention on this treatise as we think it deserves or requires, we must say, that, in our judgment, its author greatly overrates the clearness of his views, and no less so, his ability to carry them out. The order of topics is not such as to make his course clear, and when he comes to details he often so mixes up what others have held, and what is still permitted by the world, with his own teachings, as to leave us in some doubt what he means to lay down as right.
His system agrees substantially with that of those who resolve all virtue into benevolence, or into doing good to others from a benevolent principle; and if he had contented himself with maintaining, that this system ought to be established and applied, without entanglement with theology, the friends of religion would have had no just ground of offence. But, instead of this, he takes every opportunity to ascribe the errors and inconsistencies of moralists to the prevalence of religious ideas, and thus to become the assailant, either directly or by implication, not merely of the abuses and corruptions of religion, not merely of what is incidental to religion, the clergy and the church, and indeed not merely of the Scriptures, and of Christianity considered as one form of religion, but also of what constitutes the foundation of religion under every form, we mean, belief in the existence of a personal God." This belief in a personal God, and the ethical theories built upon it, he denominates mystical; a word which we thought at first might be a misprint for mythical, the latter term expressing much better, as it seems to us, what is here meant. Usage determines, for the most part, the significa
tion of words; but certainly it is not according to usage to apply the term mystical to views, which, whether true or false, admit so readily of sensible representation. Mystical, however, is the word, and among the " mystics who regard the universe as the handiwork of a personal deity, which deity they frame for themselves after their own image," (p. 31) he includes Spinoza, (p. 112.)
The second part contains the author's "Solution of Moral Problems," and his way of solving some of them will not be, we think, generally satisfactory. Thus, he would have suicide regarded "as indifferent, as wrong, as meritorious, as a duty," (p. 145) according to the different causes or motives from which it springs. Again, duelling and Lynch law are permissible, if we understand him, being regarded "as supplementary to the laws, as the avengers of crimes which the laws cannot, or do not, reach." (p. 149.) The whole chapter, "Of the unequal burden of duty imposed on women, and herein of chastity," if we take the author's drift, is still more offensive. He comes forward as the champion of the much abused female sex ; but they will hardly thank him for the explanation he gives of one of their virtues. He tells us that the reason why women are everywhere much more prompt and zealous than man, in administering to the necessities of poverty and sickness" is, that they "naturally have the desire of superiority as strongly as men; but they have much fewer opportunities of gratifying it, and must make the most of such as they have." (p. 225.)
On the whole, we are not converts to this writer's plan of substituting what he calls "forensic systems of morals, for the morals taught in the New Testament.
The History of the Puritans, or Protestant Non-conformists; from the Reformation in 1517, to the Revolution in 1688; comprising an account of their Principles; their attempts for a further Reformation in the Church; their Sufferings; and the Lives and Characters of their most considerable Divines. By DANIEL NEAL, M. A. Reprinted from the Text of Dr. Toulmin's Edition: with his Life of the Author and account of his Writings. Revised, corrected, and enlarged, with additional Notes by JOHN O. CHOULES, M. A. With nine Portraits on Steel. In two volumes. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1844. Svo. pp. 534, 564.
The title of this republication, of which we have given an exact copy from the first volume, with the punctuation unaltered, the title of the second volume being the same, with the exception of having a comma placed after the word "Notes," is somewhat deceptive. The fact is, that the whole title down
to the word "enlarged" inclusively, is a copy of the title-page of the recent English reprint of Toulmin's edition of Neal, except only that the words, "new edition in three volumes," are omitted. The volumes thus turn out to be a reprint of an already "reprinted "--"revised, corrected, and enlarged" (English) edition from the text of Dr. Toulmin. We do not say that the title was designed to mislead; it may have been the effect of mere awkwardness.
But let us proceed to the "additional Notes." Mr. Choules does not tell us (at least we can find nothing on the subject,) by what marks he designates his additions. We suppose, however, that he intends that the notes with the signature of "C" shall be considered as his. Yet on comparing the American edition with the English reprint of Toulmin's edition, in 1837, we find ourselves somewhat perplexed in regard to a portion of these notes, for some of the notes found without signature in the English edition, have received additions in the American reprint, and the whole bears the signature of "C," there being no break between the parts, and nothing to indicate that the whole note does not belong to Mr. Choules. Still further, in one instance at least, which has fallen under our eye, (P. iv. c. 3. p. 655, of vol. ii. of the English edition, and p. 160, vol. ii. of the American,) Mr. Choules has suppressed the signature of the English note, "W. J," and substituted his own initial. The signature "ED." in the English edition, we suppose designates Toulmin. This Mr. Choules usually retains, though occasionally, we observe, he adds after it, in a parenthesis, "Toulmin," in cases, it would seem, in which he would not have it understood that the sentiment of the note, or some remarks contained in it were his own. Was he willing in other cases that the notes with the mark of "ED." should be considered as belonging to the American editor?
One further charge, of a somewhat graver character, may be brought against the reprint. It relates to a process of mutilation, which was begun and carried on through several of the earlier chapters of the work, and then was suddenly in a great measure discontinued, as if the editor's conscience had at length waked up, or his hand had been arrested by a detection of the fraud. If we were at liberty to suppose the latter, all mystery attending the subject would disappear. Detection is very apt to check a process of fraud. The suppressed parts belonged to Toulmin's notes. At the conclusion of the table of contents to the second volume, the editor gives four of these passages under the head of "errata." Errata indeed! He acquits the publishers of all blame in the matter. He says that the mistake is wholly his own," and that the " omission was "occasioned" by his absence from the city, when the first number was pass