« السابقةمتابعة »
the light of a new dispensation, and were seen pursuing their course separate from each other, though in name and external circumstances united. For when our Lord speaks of the wide gate and the broad way which lead to destruction, and of the many which go in thereat; and when he speaks of the narrow gate and the straight way which lead unto life; still more, when He says to his disciples, "enter ye in at the strait gate," he must surely be understood to mean, that, amidst all the diversities of outward circumstance, there are in fact but two ways of life, and that in one or other of these every human being must be found.
Again, in that awful picture of the great judgment, where our Lord is represented as summoning before him all nations, we read of only two descriptions of persons; of the sheep, who are collected on the right hand; of the goats, who are set on the left. What, then, can be inferred from this, but that human life admits but of two divisions in its course as well as in its close; and that he who is not with God must be, dreadful as the assumption is, against him.
But, besides this, the real causes of this division are beyond the reach of man's observation; and the real limits of it are only to be comprehended by him who knoweth man's heart and, though most earnestly to be deprecated are those rash and precipitate judgments which seem sometimes to fulfil themselves, and to alienate from the ways of God those whom a gentler address might have attracted; still, there are circumstances which convey even to the darkened observation of men some intimations of the fact in question, and lead to the same conclusion.
Blended as men may be together, and mixed and confused as may seem to be their views; a calm and attentive observer can hardly fail to remark a difference, at least a divergency, in their feelings even now. He sees that some have a tendency to sink downwards, and others to
rise upwards. He sees that some have a greater degree of affinity for the usual objects of pursuit than others. He sees that some are gradually drawing nearer to God, and others departing farther from him; and he is thus obliged to perceive, that, even in that colourless medium which is spread around him, there exist rays of tints as different as those which the prism produces from the refracted pencil of light.
But is it unnatural to suppose, or rather does it not follow of necessity, that where this diversity of nature exists there must be a corresponding difference in tastes and feelings; and that, from the moment when Divine grace begins, these tastes will display themselves more strongly ?
The eye of the philosopher observes the development of the colours at the very point where the rays first part from each other; and we may also affirm with equal certainty, that, as soon as the character begins to manifest itself, it will evince its peculiar nature by tastes and feelings peculiar to itself. "He that is of God, heareth God's words." A sense of the power of Divine truth, a sense of the value of God's promises, a sense of present consolation and future hope, is invariably developed in the case of every one who turns to God, though in differences of degree and mode almost as great as the number of individuals. In proportion as the farther development of the new nature takes place, these evidences grow stronger. The tastes become more pure, the tempers more meek, the affections more warm and spiritual, and the change of external habits and pursuits bears witness to the change which is going on within. In these cases, therefore, it is impossible that the mind should remain fixed on the same objects of pursuit which had occupied it before. It has lost its relish for them; or rather, it has gained a relish for things of a different kind; and as the acquired taste is stronger than the natural one, it leads the man to reject the things which he used to
love and to seek those things for which he once felt no inclination.
And this it is which constitutes the great and real separation between the two divisions of society which we are endeavouring to consider. They differ in tastes, as much as they do in principles; and this difference of tastes leads to a difference in ways of life and habits. Each follows
the bias of its own dispositions, and each is carried by this in an opposite direction to the other.
If the case were decided in every particular individual, the questions would be open to little uncertainty. The habits which each man formed would exhibit a distinct representation of his state, and his moral condition would be as easily ascertained by this rule, as the Negro is distinguished from the European by his complexion. But we have Mestisos of more variety of colour in this world of ours, than those which Humboldt enumerates in South America; and though each man's tastes may be so decidedly pronounced as to form a pretty significant evidence of his state to his own heart and conscience; they are not always of a character so clear and so unambiguous as to do this to others, or to justify their forming any conclusive opinion.
To this we must also add, as another cause of error, that external usages are sometimes adopted for the purpose of aiding the formation of those very tastes which it is desirable to possess; and that men conscientiously renounce certain practices, in order to weaken the taste which would be strengthened by their use. It is hardly necessary to dwell on a moral resource which is familiar to every mind, but it is necessary to state this as a cause which is open to misapprehension from the inconsistencies with which it is often accompanied. Men abstain from particular indulgences, not because they have lost the taste for them, but because they wish to lose it; and the irregular efforts which they make in this way to
arrive at perfect obedience, sometimes expose the course which they are following, to ridicule, as unjust as it is unfeeling.
In the case before us, for instance, a person who wishes to encourage in himself or in his family a religious and spiritual tone of mind, deprecates the amusements of the theatre as detrimental to the frame which he is anxious to promote. His resolution is entitled to respect, as a conscientious effort to secure an important end; but it is possible that it may for a time be coupled with various inconsistences in practice, which will only be removed by increased experience and larger knowledge. But because the character is imperfect, is it therefore to be condemned as insincere? Because the man is not yet all that he ought to be, and all that he tries to be; is he therefore to be branded as a hypocrite? Are we not aware, that many steps, like those which are denounced, are not in reality pretensions to superior sanctity, but precautions against falling; the resources adopted from the consciousness of infirmity, not the expressions of presumptuous strength.
From these causes, there arises an infinite variety in the external habits of those who, in one degree or other, are turned towards God. The change which is begun in them all, is differently advanced in all. In some it is more developed than in others; the mind more completely evinces its renewal; the lusts and the affections have been longer crucified, and are therefore more languid and inanimate: and though we trust that all are of God, we cannot at present say with precision and confidence that all are Israel which are of Israel, or that all have attained to that measure by which they will delight to walk hereafter. They may be sincere in their endeavours; the root of the matter may be in them; but still, from remaining corruption or defective knowledge, their walk may be so full of inconsistency as to offer subjects of regret to their friends, and
materials for triumph and reproach to their enemies.
Thus much I have written, not in justification of what is exceptionable in the accused class; for the errors even of good men, if errors there be, are not to be defended; but in explanation of the causes which produce some of the obnoxious singularities, and some of the inconsistencies which are brought against them as charges. With all this, it is a truth essentially revealed in Scripture, that such a division as is spoken of does exist among men, and may be traced, and must be acted on by ourselves. In the belief of this, we were nursed by that church which required us, at our very admission within its pale, to renounce the pomps and vanities of this wicked world. In this conviction I feel strengthened by increasing observation and experience; and in this I have been confirmed by the tone and temper of the Edinburgh Review itself: for a journal which can take its panoramic view of all that is passing in the world, and can see nothing of the hand of God; a journal which can exercise its varied gifts of learning and talent, and use them all in forgetfulness of the God who gave them; a journal thus gifted and thus graceless; offers no moderate proof of the extent to which the human mind can go in forgetting that Being, whom, as Christians, we would wish to know alone, and above all other things.
But though this division exists, and to the eye of God is clearly and distinctly manifest, it is not equally discernible by man. We might consider the case as one of divergency rather then of separation; and though powers superior to our own may already perceive the incipient departure, there are many cases where the acuteness of the angle and the thickness of the lines prevent us from ascertaining this division as completely as we might wish. A Christian in this case is at liberty to hope the best, though others may suppose the worst. A Christian ascribes to in
firmity and inexperience the unsteadiness of the efforts he regrets to observe in those whom he wishes to think well of. There are others, who consider them as acts of wilful selfindulgence, as the resources of hypocrisy and spiritual delusion, and condemn the whole character on account of its imperfections.
Time, and time alone, will shew what each man's work is. Wisdom, we believe, will be justified of all her children. The tottering unsteady walk of the child that tries to move, will become gradually the firm commanding march of the man; and those who sneered at the inconsistency of the young in faith, shall be humbled before the stature of the confirmed believer. But whatever may be the doubts or uncertainties which exist at present, the only rational ground of hope is a sense of increasing devotedness to God; and the surest test of this is increasing distaste for the society and habits of those who are willing to forget Him.
But I would wish respectfully to close this paper with a few remarks addressed to the class whose "pretensions" have been thus rudely handled; and particularly with a view to point out the benefits which they may derive from all such attacks. Among the moral works of Plutarch, there is a very ingenious treatise on the benefit which may be derived from our enemies; and he principally dwells on the circumstance, that we may learn from those who hate us certain wholesome truths which we are not likely to learn from those who love us. To our faults, our friends are either blind through partiality, or they are unwilling to name them through tenderness for our feelings; and a man therefore is in very great danger of never hearing of the existence of these, if he only hears himself spoken of by those who feel with him and feel for him. To know the whole of his character, he must open his ear sometimes to those whose observation is quickened by malevolence; and it is from
them alone that he will hear what he really is, or at least what he appears to be; and it is obvious therefore, that self-knowledge is more likely to be assisted by the judgment of enemies than of friends.
Instead, then, of dismissing the Review with the neglect which its temper seems to deserve, it may be useful to inquire whether those things which it asserts have any foundation in fact. Is it true that any who withdraw from the frivolous amusements of the world as inconsistent with that frame of mind which they would wish to encourage, are as open to the allurements of covetousness and ambition as other men? Is it true that any who abstain from the theatre are in private life as luxurious, as vain, as expensive in dress, and as selfish as those who frequent it? I would trust not. I would hope that the same spirit which teaches caution in one respect, will not neglect it in another; but while such allegations are made, I would seriously entreat all who are included in the charge to consider seriously, whether they do give the adversary occasion to speak reproachingly against them, and whether their private lives offer any ground for the imputation. And I do this the more earnestly from feeling how important it is at all times, yet I think I might say with peculiar emphasis in times like, the present, that every one who names the name of Christ should depart from iniquity, and abstain not merely from all the reality, but also from all appearance, of evil. Let men of religion bear in mind that their conduct is watched with an acuteness which will not overlook a single failing, and unquestionably will not put the most favourable construction on any doubtful action. Let them bear in mind that the character of the very faith they profess is judged of from the conduct of individuals; and that every departure they admit from the plain letter of the Gospel, however justified it may seem in their own eyes by circumCHRIST. OBSERV. No. 360.
stances, not only becomes an occasion
It becomes them thus to avoid all things that may offend, as well as to follow after those by which they may edify one another, and to keep themselves unspotted from a world which only allures them to itself in order to turn again and rend them; and by a real and entire dedication of themselves to God, to vindicate the character of the Gospel they profess, and to glorify their Father which is in heaven.
EARLY LIFE OF PROFESSOR LEE.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. OBSERVING in your obituary of Mr. Greenfield, an allusion to a letter published by Bishop Burgess in 1814, relative to the early life of Professor Lee, I turned to your former volumes to look for the document; but not having found it, I have procured a copy elsewhere, which I inclose for insertion in your pages, thinking that the perusal of it will gratify those of your readers, who have never seen it, and also augment their esteem for that excellent man whose varied learning has ever been devoted to the best of causes; to the glory of God and the salvation of mankind; especially by his labours for the translation, circulation, and interpretation of the inspired oracles of truth. Mr. Lee, in his present important and obtensible station in society, would, I am sure, be the last man to wish forgotton those circumstances of his early struggles in pursuit of knowledge which reflect on him no small honour, and will entitle him, after he has closed his earthly labours, to a conspicuous niche among those remarkable, selftaught men, whose diligence, perseverance, talent, and success are held out as examples and encouragements to the students of future ages. Would that it could be said of all 5 B
who have thus distinguished themselves, that their mental and moral energies had been employed like his for objects as dear to the Christian as they are interesting to the scholar. The following is the letter alluded to. It was written by himself to J. Scott, Esq. LL.D., formerly Persian interpreter to Mr. Hastings in India, and afterwards Oriental Professor of the Royal and Military East-India Colleges; and was published by Bishop Burgess, in his tractate entitled, "Motives to the Study of Hebrew."
"Sir,-In conformity to your request, I now proceed to give you a detail of my pursuits in languages, with some circumstances of my life connected therewith.
"The first rudiments of learning I received at a charity school, at Longnor, in the county of Salop, where I was born, which is a village situated on the Hereford road, about eight miles from Shrewsbury. Here I remained till I attained the age of twelve years, and went through the usual gradations of such institutions, without distinguishing myself in any respect; for as punishment is the only alternative generally held out, I, like others, thought it sufficient to avoid it. At the age above mentioned, I was put out apprentice to a carpenter and joiner, by Robert Corbett, Esq.; in which, I must confess, I underwent hardships seldom acquiesced in by boys of my age; but as my father died when I was very young, and I knew it was not in the power of my mother to provide better for me, as she had two more to support by her own labour, I judged it best to submit.
"About the age of seventeen I formed a determination to learn the Latin language; to which I was instigated by the following circumstances. I had been in the habit of reading such books as happened to be in the house where I lodged; but, meeting with Latin quotations, found myself unable to comprehend them. Being employed about this time in the building of a Roman-Catholic
chapel, for Sir Edward Smith of Actonburnel, where I saw many Latin books, and frequently heard that language read, my resolution was confirmed. I immediately bought Ruddiman's Latin Grammar, at a book-stall, and learnt it by heart throughout. I next purchased Corderius' Colloquies, by Loggan, which I found a very great assistance to me, and afterwards obtained Entick's Latin Dictionary; also soon after Beza's Testament, and Clarke's Exercises. There was one circumstance, however, which, as it had some effect on my progress, I shall mention in this place. I one day asked one of the priests, who came frequently to us, to give me some information of which I was then in want; who replied, that "charity began at home." This was very mortifying, but it only served as a stimulus to my endeavours; for, from this time, I resolved, if possible, to excel even him. There was one circumstance, however, more powerful in opposing me, and that was poverty. I had, at that time, but six shillings per week to subsist on, and to pay the expenses of washing and lodging; out of this, however, I spared something to gratify my desire for learning, which I did, though not without curtailing myself of proper support. My wages were, however, soon after raised one shilling a week, and the next year a shilling more; during which time I read the Latin Bible, Florus, some of Cicero's Orations, Cæsar's Commentaries, Justin, Sallust, Virgil, Horace's Odes, and Ovid's Epistles. It may be asked, how I obtained these books: I never had all at once, but generally read one and sold it; the price of which, with a little added to it, enabled me to buy another, and this, being read, was sold to procure the next.
"I was now out of my apprenticeship, and determined to learn the Greek. I bought therefore a Westminster Greek Grammar, and soon afterwards procured a Testament, which I found not very difficult, with the assistance of Schrevelius' Lexi