Слике страница
PDF
ePub

Of stagnant waters: altar, sword and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of ball and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward bappiness. We are selfish men ;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again ;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a star, and dwelt apart;
Thou had'st a voice whose sound was like the sea ;
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So did'st thou travel on life's common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart

The lowliest duties on itself did lay.' vol. ii. p. 329. His esteem for the great men of English history rises to a sublime and lofty veneration. Her heroes in arts and arms; those who have contended for her liberty and her faith with self-sacrificing labors; those who have exhibited true manhood, whether in high or in humble life, are to him the companions of his thoughts and the themes of his praise. For the frivolity of France, for her fickleness, for her want of sublime and ennobling faith either in religion or truth, he feels a contempt which almost moves him to that scorn which “ wisdoın holds unlawful ever." His labors have all been directed to the sublime purpose of calling back to existence the ancient English character in its robust features; to excite anew in these days, that enthusiastic devotion to principles, that stern and unbending integrity, that noble self-respect which graced ibe heroes of the commonwealth, and the revolution in which was dethroned the second James.

It is in this light, that we love to think of him as a prophet, who has come forth in this age of ours, and spoken to it with reproof and rebuke, and yet with the earnestness of truth. As an asserter of principles; as a supporter of the truly heroic character; as one who has dared to speak with boldness, undaunted by the scorn of the triflers of the day, he is an object to us of high interest. Nor is this all which may be said of him. He is one of the few poets who, in the phrase of Milton, have acted as well as written poems, whose character has been the transcript of the truths which bave been the theme of their verse, and who has been as honest in his own belief and love of thein, as he has been abundant in their praise. Though we love and adinire him as a poet, as a man he excites our most intense interest and our sincerest and most heartfelt homage. We know that he is an honest man; honest in his kind and gentle affections; honest in his esteem for the plain, simple dalesmen among whom he lives; honest in the love of nature to which he lays claim. Though different in so many important respects from Burns, he is like him in this, that both in their poetry simply gave utterance to the feelings that were the constant inmates of their bosoms. But how different are these feelings ! those of the one fluctuating as the sea,-now breathing with an elevated and almost holy flame, and then again as with a fiendish

wantonness, reveling in sensuality ; while those of the other are ever calm, ever majestic, ever mild, ever benignant, and ever speaking of peace and hope.

We bave spoken of Wordsworth with feeling, and perhaps it may appear to some, with a partial and biased judgment. 'We esteem bim a great poet and a greater man; as a poet, one who is among the first of his age; who leaves far in the back-ground Byron, Scott, and Mrs. Hemans ;* and who, as a man, puts to shame the coxcombry of Bulwer, the heartlessness of Brougham, and the coarse radicalism of Cobbett and O'Connell. We have not dwelt upon bis faults; not because we deny that he has saults, but because it has been our object in commend him to our readers for his surpassing merits. We have lite sympathy with those of bis critics, who, while they yield to him high meriis, do not enter warmly into these merits; and instead of speaking of them with that noble enthusiasm which the contemplation of a truly great man never fails to excite in the breast of an individual of noble and generous spirit, affect the cavalier in balancing this excellence against that defect, and with a flippant air conclude, that on the whole he can never be a popular poet. He may not be; but when Wordsworth does not find admirers, then will it indeed be

true, that

“Plain living and high thinking are no more :
The homely beauty of the good old cause
Is gone; our peace, our fearful innocence,
And pure religion breathing household laws."

Art. IX.-Winslow ON SOCIAL AND Civil DUTIES.

Christianity applied to our Civil and Social Relations. By HUBBARD Winslow, Pastor of Bowdoin-street Church, Boston.

The author of these discourses informs us, that they “ are not a connected series, though all of them aim at the same principle. They were preached to his people some months previous to their publication. In consequence of the “ severe strictures" passed upon them at the time of their delivery, it " was thought best, after the excitement of the moment was over, to give them to the public in their original form.”

Issued from the press under these circumstances, the work before us is entitled to a more sparing criticism than we should otherwise be inclined to bestow upon it. Had Mr. Winslow, at the time they were written, intended these discourses for the public eye, we presume he would have given us a more thorough, methodical, and satisfactory discussion of the subjects of which they treat. It is to be hoped, too, that his thoughts would have been clothed in a more natural and chastened, not 10 say accurate, style, than we are favored with in these sermons. But still as they are, -composed amidst the oppressive cares of pastoral life, and designed for the indulgent ear of personal friends, they contain truth which we deem it of the highest importance that all men should hear and receive. We trust the author has not spoken in vain. We sympathize with him most entirely in regard to the evils of which he complains; and rejoice that he has given his testimony against them.

more.

* We do not speak to the disparagement of the gifted lady who is now no

She was herself a poetical disciple of Wordsworth ; 'one of the many who have been forined by his guidance, and have imbibed his spirit, and would have been moet forward to acknowledge her high obligations to his teachings.

His discourses are six in number. The first (which it seems was preached on the sabbath “contiguous [?] to the fourth of July,”) treats of "the christian way to promote liberty and union in church and state.” The second is a continuation of the same subject. The third and fourth specify the “duties of christians to civil government." The fifth inculcates the “duty of chrislianizing civil government.” The last, wbich was delivered in Park-street church, is upon “the law of christian morality as applied to mercantile transactions."

Some idea of the evils against which Mr. Winslow has directed bis pen, may be obtained from the following extract :

A tendency has ever existed among christians, to decline from the higher and more spiritual duties of religion, to an absorbing interest in those more remote and secular; which inevitably produces alienation and brings disaster to vital religion. For no sooner do they descend from the position in which they are unitedly held in supreme devotement to the same great spiritual object, than one man fasteps on one cause, another upon another, another upon another, each viewing things in his own peculiar light, and attaching paramount importance to his own cause ; whence arises strise, party, denunciation. The error lies in aiming remedies primarily at the effects of sin, which are many, rather than at the source of all sin, which is one ; in attempting to destroy the tree of evil, by lopping off branches, and burning away excrescences, instead of laying an ax at the root. With a wisdom truly marvelous, did Christ and his apostles keep a steady eye to their great work, and never did they descend to a direct interference with matters of secular and party interest, considering that if the fountain was cleansed, the streams would soon become pure of course.'

The consequence of this division of christian duties, is, that individuals devote themselves to the removal of particular forms of sin, to the neglect of all others. Thus:

pp. 16, 17.

• One reformer conceives that lewdness is the great sin. He has

ascertained that it is vastly more extensive, rife, malignant, destructive to soul and body, and to our religious and social interest, than all other sins put together. All the other commandments of the decalogue depend upon the seventh. Let us then form a Seventh Commandment Society, turn our main strength against this sin till it is vanquished, then will the cause of salvation move on. Woe to the preacher who does not lift up his voice against this sin, till the Achan is destroyed.

Another does not view things quite in this light. He conceives that the profanntion of the Sabbath is the great sin to be removed. The instructions of the bible on this point are remarkably bold and explicit.

Let us then have a Fourth Commandment Society. To hasten and enforce the desired consummation, let us procure six-day stages, steam-boats, markets, milk-men, barbers; let us get all to the house of God; soon then will every sin die, and our religious and civil institutions will tower in pyramids of strength toward beaven.

Another considers that the sin of war is the greatest of all. It is a great cause of sabbath-breaking, and the prolific cause of all conceivable evil.

Let us then have a Peace Society, put an end to all war, then will the gospel have free course.

Another conjectures that the great sin lies farther back, which engenders war and all other sins. It is the use of fermented drinks in the form of wine, porter, beer, cider, and similar articles not recognized in the common temperance pledge. The secret of virtue is cool blood.

Let us then have a Temperance Society embracing the comprehensive pledge, and the high-way to universal piety will be

Another, however, supposes, that of all the articles that ever cursed man physically, intellectually, and morally, none is before that filthy weed called tobacco.

An Anti-Tobacco Society is therefore indispensable.

But, says another, experience has taught me, that tea and coffee are equally pernicious with wine and tobacco, especially to nervous temperaments. * Nothing should be drunk stronger than pure water. We must have an Anti-Tea-and-Coffee Society. pp. 22–25.

Mr.Winslow carries the list of proscribed indulgences still farther, including animal food and fashionable dress. He does not object to aggressive movements against popular vices by societies or otherwise ; but be considers that this exclusive attention to particular forins of sin, this subdivision of labor, this assigning of parts, in the great work of evangelizing the world, has a strong tendency to engender narrow views, and an intolerant spirit in the church. The natural result is fanaticisin. The great rule of faith and practice is virtually set aside ; the example of Christ is disregarded, and in some instances condemned.

cast up:

• When you see men wise above the bible, undertaking to be more moral, or religious, or prudent than Jesus Christ; wishing that he had sometimes done differently, as recently did a well-meaning person, when VOL. VIII.

20

he expressed a wish that Christ had not made wine and sanctioned its use at a wedding, and as another did when he thought on the whole that Christ would have done better pot to have used wine at the sacramental board; you may know that the spirit of fanaticism is at work; and that what begins with denouncing Jesus Christ, will not be likely to end without denouncing even his most consistent followers, and setting itself up, of course, as more righteous than all.' p.

32. The author's subject branches out into many particulars. Masonry, slavery, obedience to law, reverence for rulers, are taken up and examined in the light of the gospel. We cannot follow bim throuyh them all. The foregoing extracts will serve to show the class of evils against which he would guard his readers.

We hope and believe the work will do good. The evils of which it treats are real, and of universal prevalence. Whatever difference of opinion there may be as to ibeir causes, we think there will soon be but one as to their existence. He must be blind indeed, who does not see and feel them. They are on every hand, crowding upon and seriously annoying the ministers of Christ, embarrassing our great religious enterprises, and disturbing the peace of our churches.

One extreme begels another. In recoiling from the fatal lethargy of monkish seclusion, we bave fallen upon the opposite and no less fatal error of restless, ungoverned activity. Because the piety of a former age was cloistered in cells, retirement and meditation have come to be regarded by many with suspicion. Action, not of the mind within itself, but of the mind upon objects out of itself, is thought to be almost the sole stimulant of vital religion. So much tiine has been wasted in dreamy contemplation, that nothing but outward motion, uninterrupted by seasons of reflection, can repair the loss. Who stops to think, neglects his duty. To this extreme many are tending; some, we fear, have actually reached it. And of such it may be truly said, they live in a complete eddy of agitation ; sustained from sinking merely by the violence of the circling waters. What commenced on principle, grows into a passion; until at length the excitement occasioned by external movement becomes the element of life. The hour of solitary meditation; the sweet stillness of a christian sabbath; the pensive twilight of a summer's evening,-1hese are not the scenes in which such persons are interested. They crave something more exciting ; something that shall not turn the mind so much inward upon itsell; sometbing that lies out of their own consciousness. And this craving must be satisfied, for it has become a disease. This activity will find its aliment; it requires an object on which to expend itself; it must bave something to do. And if there is no work at band, it will make work. Urged on by such a passion, men will look about to find something on which

« ПретходнаНастави »