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The Manual of Family and Private Devotions, consisting of Prayers,
Original and Selected. By James Cochrane, A.M.Edinburgh:
Fraser and Co. 1835. Is it right or proper to send round with a new book lithographs of letters of recommendation from persons like Dr. Chalmers ? Would he approve of this puffing of a book of Prayers ? Dr. Chalmers' recommendation would have the greatest weight on almost all subjects. But perhaps one may be allowed to differ in taste sometimes from one whose powers, and application of those powers, deserve and obtain the sincerest and most hearty respect and reverence. Now, certainly, the taste of very many of these prayers seems terrible. In the very first day's prayer (which, as well as all in the first week, is from Toplady,) imagine such a play on words as this in a prayer_“ May we inwardly experience the grace of the means while we attend on the means of grace, and enjoy saving intercourse with the God of ordinances, in frequenting the ordinances of God.” (p. 3.) There is hardly one of Mr. Toplady's prayers (often vigorous and warm) which has not some strange, and unintelligible, and almost slang phrases.
Of this, as of almost all large collections of prayers, it must be said, that they may be very useful to those who have knowledge and taste to reject what is unsound in opinion, and bad in composition and feeling. This, especially, contains a very large number of prayers from good authors.
Fisher's Juvenile Scrap Book. By Bernard Barton. Fishers and Co.
1836. 8vo. Messrs. Fisher have been very fortunate in procuring the assistance of a poet whose writings are always so pleasing, from their vein of poetry, their kind feeling, and from their moral and religious character, as those of Mr. Barton. There are many copies of verses (take the first as an example) to bear out this character in the present volume. Mr. Barton has also an assistant, of no ordinary powers. “ The Green Church Yard,” from his pen, is of great beauty.
The Providence of God Ilustrated. London: Hamilton, Adams, and
Co. 1835. 12mo. pp. 531. This is a collection of remarkable Providences, arranged under heads.
Though unable to agree at all with many of the collector's views, or deduce the same inferences as he does, and doubtful about the authenticity of many of his stories, the reviewer must say that he can never take up such a volume without deep interest. Taking even those stories which are known to be authentic, and rejecting others, such a collection cannot but awaken reflexions of a very impressive kind.
Sermons. By W. E. Trenchard, M.A. London: Rivingtons. 1835. MR. TRENCHARD has attempted to beguile the hours of sickness and absence from duty, by preparing some discourses for the press. It is only justice to him to say, that they are pleasing in composition, and bear ample marks of a thoughtful, judicious, and Christian mind.
A History of the Christian Priesthood, in Reply to Howitt's Popular
History of Priestcraft. By J. B. Mills. Oxford: Vincent. 1835. MR. Mills has exposed Mr. Howitt's extraordinary tissue of baseless assertions, and malicious inventions, with clearness, diligence, and ability, and has drawn together a very large mass of useful information. Wherever there is a candid mind, his reply will be deemed satisfactory. To Mr. Howitt himself, who knew that what he was writing was not true, and the many Mr. Howitts now abroad, all reply is vain.
Mr. Mills should have stated the sources from which he derived his information more clearly. That on the quadrupartite division seems to come from Mr. Hale’s excellent pamphlets. An Examination of the Ancient Orthography of the Jews, and the
Original State of the Text of the Hebrew Bible. Part. I.-An Inquiry into the Origin of Alphabetical Writing. By the Rev. T. Wall, D.D., Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, &c. &c. London:
Whittaker and Co. 1835. Royal 8vo. pp. 378, and plates. DR. WALL's book is one of no common occurrence in these days, for every page of it displays close, and hard, and long thinking. Whether the reader assents to the opinions contained in it, or not, he will at least feel that he is not annoyed by being set to read the flimsy effusions of a self-sufficient person, delivering his opinion on a matter on which he has hardly thought for an hour consecutively, but the work of a very powerful mind, rich in learning, which has done ample justice to the reader, and to itself, and given ample time to the important subject of which it undertakes to treat.
Dr. Wall holds, that we have no sort of proof that alphabetic writing was an human invention—and that although learned men have very carelessly and coolly talked of the easy transition from hieroglyphics to alphabetic writing, it has been only from carelessness. For in truth, not only a link, but the most important link in the chain, is wanting. It is true, that men may have passed from mere symbolic to phonetic writing—that is, they may have used a certain symbol, which first represented a thing, to represent the name of that thing, in a given language, and to stand for its sound. But that sound has meaning What should lead them the next step, namely, to make such a symbol represent a simple element which has no meaning at all ? A picture of a Dog may suggest, first, the thought of a Dog, and then the word Dog; but what is to induce men to make it represent the letter D ? Is this the next, or a necessary step to the process ? Surely not.
But much farther than this. What is to lead them to aim at this ? An alphabet is a means of expressing all sounds by a limited number of symbols. This is the proper definition of an alphabetlimitation is its essence. But to suppose that people would seek to make the picture or symbol of a Dog, stand for D, is, to assume the
thing to be proved, that is, it is to assume that they had already arrived at the notion of a system where the number of symbols might be limited. Before we can assume that they aimed at the execution of this purpose, we must shew that they had got the purpose itself in their minds.
This is a very rough, brief, and imperfect sketch of Dr. Wall's very powerful argument.
Dr. Wall afterwards goes on to inquire into the evidence from facts (mostly negative indeed, but curious and valuable) that alphabetic writing was not of human invention. The facts that the Egyptians never arrived at it (alphabetic writing) till the third century of the Christian æra, nor at the phonetic use of characters till their connexion with Greece, - that the Chinese, in all the many ages of their civilization, have not arrived at it, nay, have only come to a limited phonetic use of characters since their intercourse with foreign nations, are very striking. And Dr. Wall's researches into the subject of hieroglyphics, and his discussion of the discoveries of the late Dr. Thomas Young, and of the limited lengths to which the system discovered by him was probably carried, as well as his severe castigation of Champollion, deserve great attention. He has bestowed the closest thinking and severest labour on them.
Dr. Wall's object is to shew that alphabetic writing was a revelation, and for a most worthy purpose. For had the truths given to Moses been recorded in hieroglyphics, they must, in all probability, have perished in a very few generations, as the understanding hieroglyphics must altogether depend on oral tradition. For the arguments by which he supports his assertion, and the very ingenious answers to objections, as well as for the interesting suggestions that Moses (learned in all the wisdom of Egypt) had probably been accustomed to hieroglyphics, and that his style bears marks of it, the reader must refer to the work itself. The work and the subject will fully repay him. The reviewer feels that perhaps other arguments would not be wanting to confirm Dr. Wall's hypothesis. That the Greek alphabet (and its derivatives of course) came from the Phenician (or Hebrew) the order and names of the letters seem to shew to conviction. Let it then be considered to what an enormously remote antiquity (by pure historical grounds) we can trace the existence of Hebrew as an alphabetic language. The finding the book of the law in Josiah's time, which could be read then, and yet was clearly of the remotest date, takes us even farther back than the separation of the Samaritan language; yet, in this remote antiquity, the Jews were almost barbarous, and the polished Egyptians had no alphabet for centuries. On the other hand, would it not seem that Moses speaks of the writing on the tables as if it could be read by the people then ?
Dr. Wall's work will make no small sensation, and they who may differ from him will, at all events, agree in admiring his learning, his diligence, and his steady habits of deep thinking.
The Naturalist's Poetical Companion, with Notes. London: Hamilton,
Adams and Co. 12mo. This is, on the whole, a pleasing selection of poems on subjects of
VOL. IX.--Jan. 1836.
natural history. The collector, however, instead of apologizing for inserting any old poems, would have done well to insert more. His notes are sensible enough.
A Letter to Lord Melbourne on the Idolatry and Apostacy of the Church
of Rome. By the Bishop of Salisbury. Salisbury: Hern. 1835. This tract is a short and able summary of the leading corruptions of the Roman church, and, if taken out of the form of a letter, would make a most useful tract.
Hymns for the Service of the Church, with a Selection of Music. Lon
don : Hatchards. 1835. 4to. THERE are a great many hymns of considerable beauty here selected, and set to very agreeable tunes. But are not many of them rather sacred poems, fitter for the closet than for congregational use ? For example, Herbert's “ Sweet Day,” (p. 75.) The reviewer, too, must loudly protest against any poem of Mr. Moore's being admitted among religious poems. The remembrance suggested by it cannot be favourable. But a judicious selector could make excellent use of this volume.
A New Edition of Dr. Valpy's Useful Greek Grammar, the second volume of Mr. Edmond's Life of Washington, and the following single Sermons and Pamphlets should be noticed :-An excellent Sermon, by the Dean of Norwich, preached in September, before the Corporation; The Written Word, our Hope, a Sermon, preached in October 4, by Charles Marshall. (London: Rivingtons. 1835.) The Jubilee of the Bible, a Sermon, by Rev. M. Kinsey, Fellow of Trin. Coll., Oxford. (London: Rivingtons.) Visitation Sermon, The Doctrine of Justification by Faith, by C. E. Kennaway, Vicar of Campden. (Rivingtons.) Popery, whether of Past or Present Times, shewn to dishonour the Word of God, and to obstruct its Free Diffusion, a Sermon, preached October 4th, by the Rev. T. Davis, A.M., Curate of All Saints, Worcester, (Rivingtons. 1835.) Religious Education of the Poor a National Duty, a Sermon, by Rev. P. C. Nicholson, published by request. (Manchester. 1835.) Sermon, preached in Exeter Cathedral, On the Anniversary of the National Schools, by Rev. John Rogers, M.A., Rector of Mawnan, published by request of the General Meeting, Falmouth. (London: Rivingtons. 1835.) The Church of England a Bulwark between Superstition and Schism, two Sermons, preached in the Collegiate Church, Manchester, October 4th, by the Rev. Richard Parkinson, M.A., Fellow of Christ's College. (London : Rivingtons. 1835.) The Substance of a Lecture on Astronomy, delivered before the Mechanics' Institution, Chester, by H. Raikes, Esq., Member of Cam. Phil. Society. (London: Simpkin and Marshall.) A Sermon, (of singular beauty and composition,) by the Bishop of Winchester, preached before their Majesties on Oct. 4.
MR. GILBERT improves his excellent Clerical Almanack every year. That for 1836 is full of information.
FANATICISM. Among the singular instances of fanaticism daily rising to view, one exhibited by a correspondent of the “ Record” deserves notice. He is a clergyman in one of the midland counties, residing in another person's parish, and at a few miles distance from his own. He writes a letter in the public papers, pronouncing, on his own authority, that the clergyman of his parish, and all those near it, deliver such deadly poison that he has been obliged to forbid his family to have the privilege of public worship. He assembles a few persons with them in his own house, wishes to find a barn in order to collect more, and calls on the bishops to establish a home mission and send teachers into the dark parishes where the gospel is not preached.
To comment on the strange conduct of one who chooses to assume that he is infallible, and that those who differ from him in their view of the scheme of salvation are retailers of deadly poison,—who forbids his family to discharge a solemn duty because he does not like the preacher, and thus teaches every one to slight public worship on such pretences,—who makes preaching everything and worshipping God nothing, would be idle and useless. Such an one must be too far gone in delusion for any remonstrance to avail with him. But he ought to be called on to give his name. No man, especially no minister of the church, has a right to spread such injurious assertions, and to state that there are parishes where it is a duty to forbid persons to resort to the temple of God without supporting his assertion by his name. The person in question is here called upon for his name, if he wishes to be thought an honest man,to be thought of in any other light, indeed, than as one who is willing to maligo his brethren, but not willing to do so in the light of day. He need not fear that any evil can happen to him. The men whom he has maligned will doubtless pity him, and pass his censure by in silence. But, on principle, it ought always to be required that such serious accusations should be made openly and boldly, if they are made at all. If not, occasion is given to every one who wishes either to wreak his bad temper on the church, or to injure particular persons.
MR. WOODWARD AND THE DUBLIN UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE. It is not very usual, or very advisable, for one periodical to consider how another deals with particular books. The "Dublin University Magazine” has thought proper to infringe this rule by complaining of the article in this Journal on Mr. Woodward, as misrepresenting him. It is not possible to reply to the “Dublin University Magazine,” because it breaks off its accusation in the midst of a paragraph which seemed likely to contain the heaviest inculpation. All that shall be said here is, that if there is any misrepresentation of Mr. Woodward's meaning, it was perfectly undesigned. But if his essay first noticed does not mean that children of religious parents suffer because their parents are religious, the writer can only say that he really cannot comprehend Mr. Woodward's meaning at all. If that is his meaning, it certainly seems to lead to the consequences noticed in the review. The truth is, that what Mr. W. says is a mere fallacy. If religious parents are injudicious as well as religious, which may very well be, their children may perhaps be as likely to turn out ill as the children of careless parents. For if religion is injudiciously and overvehemently, or too constantly, pressed upon a very young mind, that mind may recoil from it. But then the child suffers, not from having a religious, but from having an injudicious, parent. It is not worth while to go into a long defence of the review of the other essays noticed. The impression made