« PreviousContinue »
gion I always find it. Devotion supplies me with a pure and exalted pleasure. It elevates my soul, and teaches me to look down with a proper contempt upon many objects which are eagerly sought, but which end in misery. In this respect, and in many others, it effects, in the best and most compendieus method, what has been in vain pretended to by proud philosophy.
“And in selecting a mode or peculiar system of religion, I shall consider what that was in which my father lived and died. I find it to have been the religion of Christ. I examine it with reverence. I encounter many difficulties; but, at the same time, I feel within me an internal evidence, which, uniting its force with the external, forbids me to disbelieve. When involuntary doubts arise, I immediately silence their importunity by recollecting the weakness of my judgment, and the vain presumption of hastily deciding on the most important of all subjects, against such powerful evidence, and against the major part of the best and wisest men, in regions of the earth the most illuminated.
“I will learn humility of the humble Jesus, and gratefully accept the beneficial doctrines and glorious offers which his benign religion reaches out to all who sincerely seek him by prayer and penitence.
“In vain shall the conceited philosophers, whom fashion and ignorance admire, attempt to weaken my belief, or undermine the principles of my morality. Without their aid, I can be sufficiently wicked, and sufficiently miserable. Human life abounds with evil. I will seek balsams for the wounds of the heart in the sweets of innocence, and in the consolations of religion. Virtue, I am convinced, is the noblest ornament of humanity, and the source of the sublimest and the sweetest pleasure ; and piety leads to that peace, which the world, and all that it possesses, cannot bestow. Let others enjoy the pride and pleasure of being called philosophers, deists, skeptics; be mine the real, unostentatious qualities of the honest, humble, and charitable Christian. When the gaudy glories of fashion and of vain philosophy shall have withered like a short-lived flower, sincere piety and moral honesty shall flourish as the cedar of Lebanon.
“But I repress my triumphs. After all my improvements, and all my desires of perfection, I shall still be greatly defective. Therefore, to whaterer degree of excellence I advance, let me never forget to show to others that indulgence which my infirmities, my errors, and my voluntary misconduct, will require both from them and from mine and their Almighty and most merciful Father."
How much more worthy and commendable, whether we view them as matter of interest in regard to worldly advancement, or as matter of moral duty, having respect to the recompense of reward, are these resolutions of a virtuous young man who has counseled with the wise, and founded his rules of life on a firm conviction of his obliga. tion to obey the divine command—“Deal justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God,” than the generally received maxims and adopted practices of the world, which are given in another part of the work before us, and which the writer holds up to merited ridicule, that they may be avoided. The reader, we are sure, will not be offended at perceiving that we copy the entire section, under the head of “ Maxims and Practices of the World—to be shunned.”
“Let the amassing of money be your only study; and to this sacrifice the feelings of the heart, the ties of nature, and the laws of honor.
Never notice a poor person, whatever merit he may possess ; nor neglect to show respect to a rich one, though he may have as many vices as the hairs of his head.
When you see a worthy man run down, take a pelt at him with the rest, instead of defending or protecting him. If he is unfortunate, he cannot turn again í and it will show you puseess spirit as well as your neighbors
If you know a secret, keep it till it will answer your purpose to divulge it, and no longer. Every thing should be turned to interest ; and honor and friendship are merely names.
If you suspect any of your friends of foibles, accuse them loudly of crimes; for it is the modern way of reformation. Think and speak as ill as possible of every one, save yourself; and if they are not bad already, you are likely to have the satisfaction of making them so, when you deprive them of Teputation.
It may suit you to be frugal and virtuous in reality, but not to appear 80. Affect the rake and the spendthrift, in order to gain credit with the worthless.
Though it may be inconvenient and disagreeable to be quite ignorant, never study to be learned. Half the world will call you pedantic, if you never break Priscian's head; and the other half will spite you, for your superior knowledge.
If you receive good advice, never follow it, for it savors of arrogance to direct you; and it shows spirit to act as you think proper yourself.
It is better to beg your bread than to submit, in the slightest degree, to those who have a right and the ability to advise you. Obstinacy is a glorious character. When you suffer for it, think yourself a martyr.
Believe those only who flatter you, and study to mislead you ; a real friend is often a disagreeable monitor. He will not favor your prejudices, nor praise you when you are injuring yourself, which you have an undoubted right to do. Make yourself
as odious as you can to those who will not humor you in every thing. Affection may be forced by resistance; and you will become loved in proportiou as you deserve to be hated.
If you know any more respected than yourself, never try to imitate the good qualities which gain them good-will and esteem ; but exert yourself to blacken their reputation, and to make them appear as unamiable as yourself.
If you cannot have every thing just to your wish, even if you should not deserve the comforts you may cominand, be quite miserable; and throw the blame on your friends and connections, not on your own temper and conduct.
Let your own reason be the standard of right, and alone direct you what to do, or to leave undone. Who should know better than yourself what is prudent and expedient ?-Besides, when you please yourself, you have no one to blame, whatever may happen-a consolation of the highest importance to secure.
Be reserved to your friends, and confidential only with your enemies. Make a mystery of every thing, to fret and torinent those who wish you well: and if you can make one feeling and honest heart unhappy, think you have not lived or acted in vain.
By following these maxims and practices, you have the glory of being detested by every good and virtuous mind ; and perhaps the notoriety of infamy is dearer in your estimation than the silent consciousness of desert !"
But we must close. We will simply add, that, in our estimation, the “American Gentleman" is calculated to be eminently useful, not merely for the purpose of establishing and strengthening good prin. ciples in the breasts of those who have never given way to vicious indulgences, but also for correcting and reforming those who may have unfortunately been tempted to drink of the bitter waters of pleasurable sin. As such, the work deserves to rank with the writings of Franklin, and others of a similar class, and should be made the pocket companion of every young man—not merely to carry about with him unopened, but to read it, and refer to it for counsel, in the hour of temptation.
The above review of this little volume is a just one, in so far as the book is concerned, and we hope it may contribute to its wider circu. lation and more extensive usefulness. But while we thus speak of the work itself, we cannot in justice omit a passing remark respecting its reputed author. It comes before the public as the production of Charles Butler, Esq., who, in the preface, modestly remarks,
“In selecting the materials for such a work as the present, I have necessarily had recourse to a variety of the best and ablest writers who have. treated on human life and conduct. I have endeavored to arrange the different subjects with some attention to their natural order, and to give the work a degree of unity and completeness. Still I feel that I have only made an approximation toward the full accomplishment of the original design. There is much left to the judgment, taste, and discretion of the reader-much to supply-peradventure somewhat to forgive. I can only ask the indulgence of my countrymen toward an attempt which has for its object the general diffusion of correct and manly principles in the conduct of life.”
This is a candid avowal of indebtedness to a variety of the best and ablest writers who have treated on human life and conduct ;" and though the fact that the style and sentiments in the essays afford internal evidence that the author of the preface had consulted works of higher merit than he was capable of writing, with an intenseness which betrayed him into a servile imitation of dress, few, we believe, thought him to be a mere copyist, until it was suggested by an indivi. dual, that he thought he had seen some of the essays before, in the same language. This led us to examine the extent of his obligations for the matter of his work, which we find to be almost entire. Nineteen of the articles first in order in the book, and fourteen others, com. prising about two-thirds of the whole matter, titles and all, are found in “Knox's Essays," with scarcely any variation of words, and we believe not so much as one entire sentence. How much of the residue of the volume may be found in the same work, or whether any, we are not able to say, not having time to examine further. “Knox's Essays” were published many years ago in England, in miscellaneous pieces. They were afterward collected by the author, and published in a volume. A second edition, after the first was out of print, was issued as revised by the author, in 1782. And there is a London edition of it, by Jones & Co., dated 1827, which now lies before us.
Though we deem it matter of justice to state these facts relative to the authorship of at least a large portion of this little volume, yet we would by no means depreciate its merits, or do any thing to limit its sphere of usefulness. That the sentiments it contains were approved by the Christian public a half century ago, speaks much in their favor, and serves to show that correct moral principles do not change with the follies and fashions of an unstalle world. We are indebted to the publishers for furnishing the public with these practical essays in so cheap and convenient a form, and hope they may find their way into the hands of all for whose special benefit they were intended; but it would have been more in accordance with our notions of propriety to have sent them out in the form of an abridgment of Knox's works, rather than the production of Charles Butler, Esq., or at least to have given Dr. Knox credit for those essays which have been copied from his book, and were published probably before Mr. Butler was born.-Ed.
From the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine. China, its State and Prospects, with especial Reference to the Spread of the Gospel :
containing Allusions to the Antiquity, Extent, Population, Civiliza ion, Literature, and Religion of the Chinese. By W. H. Medhurst, of the London Missionary Society. Illustrated with Engravings on Wood, by G. Baxter. 8vo. pp. 582. — John Snow.*
As soon as the publication of Mr. Medhurst's book was announced, we lost no time in procuring and examining it. The subjects on which it professed to treat we knew to be among the most interesting that could be presented for consideration: and to all other inducements curiosity added no ordinary strength. Next to admission to China itself is the possession of a work, the details of which shall make us familiar with China ; and the value of such a work is greatly increased, if, being written by a Christian man, it shows the relations in which the country stands to those missionary efforts in which the Christian church is engaged. We quite agree with Mr. Medhurst, that
“In attempting to do good, we should do it on the largest scale, and to the greatest number of persons. The physician is most needed where the malady is most distressing, and the diseased most numerous; and so the missionary is principally required where the heathen most abound. Upon this principle, China requires our first attention, and will exhaust our most strenuous efforts. There, all the disposable laborers in the Christian church may employ their energies, without fear of overworking the field, or standing in each other's way. Piety the most exalted, talents the most splendid, may there find ample room for display; the greatest trophies of divine grace will there be obtained, and the gospel is destined to achieve more in China than has ever been witnessed elsewhere, mainly on account of the number of individuals to be brought under its influence. This, then, is the field for missionary exertions; the sphere where the most influential societies should direct their chief efforts; for until some impression is made upon China, it will matter little what is achieved in other more confined and thinly-peopled regions. The conversion of a few islands to Christ, and the introduction of the gospel to the extremities of a continent, resemble an investing of the outworks of heathenism ; but the strong-hold still remains untouched, and until China is evangelized, the greatest half of our work remains to be begun.” (Page 96.)
Thus feeling on the subject, it will be believed that we even
* This work, we perceive, by a notice we have just seen, is re-published in Boston, by Drooker & Browotor.-Ed Maon & Rev.
eagerly perused a work coming from so respectable a source, and which promised so much of the very information we desired to possess. We have not been at all disappointed. Mr. Medhurst's book is one of those which he that begins to read will scarcely be able to close till he arrives at the last page; and he who has read it once will be glad of the opportunity of frequently consulting it. Our principal, indeed, almost our exclusive task in the present article will be that of transcription. We wish to put our readers in pos. session of the leading facts stated by Mr. Medhurst, both for the information of those who may not have the opportunity of consulting the original work, and to induce all who can do it to place it upon their own shelves. Our object in this is not only to communicate some interesting facts in relation to the state of nearly half the population of the globe, but to direct attention to China as a most important subject of missionary contemplation and enterprise.-China has too long been considered as hermetically sealed to the gospel. If “Satan hath his seat” in countries where heathenism reigns, it is not to be wondered at that he should employ every artifice to divert attention from one of the most populous portions of his usurped dominion, and that he should seek to establish the opinion that as yet China was impervious and impregnable. While Rome deliberates, Saguntum perishes. Christians are asking whether any thing can be done for China; and because hopeless of success, little is attempted, and therefore little is done, and its millions are perishing for lack of knowledge. Even were there, apparently, no human means of overcoming the obstacles which have been supposed to prevent all entrance into China, yet there is an instrument to which Christians, in word at least, are accustomed to ascribe great power, and which, in the case of China, ought to be employed without delay. Let the Israel of God in spirit perambulate this Jericho with steadfast faith and earnest prayer; let them persevere, confiding in the promise of God, that every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and high hill be brought low, and they shall not be disappointed; the walls shall be overthrown, and a way opened for the introduction and triumphs of the gospel. Mr. Medhurst's volume, however, opens to us a far less unpromising state of things than we had ventured to anticipate. And in this respect, its publication may be regarded as opening a new era for China. No Christian, we think, can read it without being convinced that much more is possible than has ever yet been attempted. Mr. Medhurst returns from searching out the land, and he brings no faithless, discouraging report. To us he seems to possess much of the spirit of Joshua and Caleb. He points out; indeed, the vastness of the work, and the greatness of the obstacles and difficulties; but he views them as any thing but insuperable, and calls upon Christians, in effect, "to go up at once and possess the land."
By the extracts which we intend to give, we shall do more than direct attention to Mr. Medhurst's book; we believe we only do him justice in saying that we shall do that which will give him far greater pleasure; we shall direct attention to China itself, and thus second his endeavors to promote its evangelization.
On the antiquity supposed to be elaimed by the Chinese apnale, Mr. Medhurst thus writes :