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My father continues: I had at this time many instructers as to my style of preaching; and some at the Lock board assumed rather a high tone of authority: while others were disposed to counsel me as the messengers of Ahab did Michaiah.* But I disposed of the dictating instruction very shortly. Gentlemen,' I said, you possess authority sufficient to change me for another preacher, whenever you please; but you have no power to change me into another preacher. If you do not convince my understanding that I am in an error, you can never induce me to alter my method of preaching.'
Faint not, poor traveller, though thy way
Nay, sink not; though from every limb,
Thy friends are gone, and thou, alone,
Bear firmly; yet a few more days,
Christian thy friend, thy master prayed,
Oh, think'st thou that his Father's love
Go, sufferer, calmly meet the woes,
Go, his eternal victory share.
* 1 Kings xxii. 13, 14.
A Catechism, in three parts. Part first, containing the elements of religion and morality; designed for children. Part second, consisting of questions and answers, chiefly historical, on the Old Testament. Part third, consisting of similar questions and answers on the New Testament, designed for children and young persons. Compiled and recommended by the Ministers of the Worcester Association in Massachusetts. Cambridge. An Introductory Catechism, by Dr. Carpenter; and also, a Catechism of Scripture names, by Dr. Watis; to which are added, Prayers and Hymns for children. Baltimore.
THE first named of these little books is compiled and recommended by the Worcester Association of Ministers, who deserve praise for their repeated attention to this important subject. They several years ago published a catechism for the benefit of the children in their several parishes, which being now out of print, they have attempted to improve upon it in the present publication, and have sent abroad what we conceive to be a very valuable work of the kind. It is in part a compilation, and in part original. Many questions and answers are extracted from the little manual for small children entitled Elements of Religion and Morality,' which has been for many years extensively used and highly valued. The catechisms of Watts also, which have been freely drawn from by all who have made similar compilations since that good ma lived; and of Priestley, who Jaboured alike for philosophers and for children, have been in some instances consulted. The result is a judicious and useful book, which may be introduced with advantage to schools and families.
It is divided into three parts. The first part contains the simplest principles of moral and religious knowledge, and the most important precepts of religious obedience, in language perfectly adapted to the comprehension of children. Amongst these we were particularly gratified to find some of our Saviour's prominent instructions introduced in the very words of scripture. We were also pleased with the answer to the 50th question, as introducing to the notice of children the early obligation of the
Lord's Supper, the consideration of which is too apt to be postponed as a matter with which none have any concern until they arrive at man's estate.
The second part contains questions on the Old Testament. They are principally historical, relating to those persons and events, an acquaintance with which is of most consequence in reading the sacred volume. Some are chronological, giving the date of those remarkable events or distinguishing epochs, to which the rest of the history may be referred. Some are geographical, pointing out the situation of many important places. Some relate to those circumstances in the contemporary history of other nations, to which allusions are sometimes made in the Bible. Some describe the great feasts of the Jews, about which children are apt to be told nothing, and therefore to have erroneous conceptions of some passages. It is readily perceived that all this is valuable information, which must essentially aid the intelligent reading of the Scriptures. Children are thus furnished with a sort of key, by which they will be able to unlock many difficult passages for themselves. The plan we believe to be new, so far as relates to this particular.
The third part contains questions on the New Testament, upon a similar plan with those on the old. They are confined principally to stating general principles and leading facts, the knowledge of which is necessary and sufficient to illustrate much of the gospel history, and which does not ordinarily find place in catechisms. We esteem this exceedingly judicious and useful. As examples of what we mean, we refer to Part II. qu. 54, 55. 64. 68. 69. 81, &c. and Part III. qu. 29. 33. 75. 76, 77. (together with the note, which perhaps might well have made part of the answer,) 93, &c.
The other work, whose title we have given above, is the republication of Catechisms by Drs. Carpenter and Watts. That of the former is designed for the youngest class of learners, for whose use it is excellently suited. Its great peculiarity is a greater fulness on the character and offices of Jesus Christ than is usual in works of this sort. That of the latter is a catechism of names and places in the Old and New Testaments, conveying useful information in a concise and easy form,
We recommend both these publications to the attention of parents and teachers. Some may probably find the one, and some the other, best adapted to their design or suited to their taste. But there need be no interference between them. Both may be advantageously used in the instruction of the same children. Teachers of schools, and ministers in parochial instruction, may give them to different classes of their pupils,
and will probably find the interest of the children in their work kept alive and increased by a change from the one to the other. One catechism is soon learned, the answers become familiar, and when they have been repeated every sabbath for a year, they cease to excite the attention they once did. A change is for this reason desirable. And not less so for the sake of the teacher, who equally with the pupil needs to bave his attention sometimes excited by change.
Sermons on the Unity of God, and on the Character of Jesus Christ. By WINTHROP BAILEY, A.M. Minister of the Gospel in Pelham, Mass. Springfield. A. G. Tannatt & Co. 1822. pp. 68.
'THE unity of God,' is a doctrine, not only most agreeable to reason and philosophy, but expressly taught by divine revelation. It was received by the Jews, who had the books of the Old Testament, and it is received by Christians, who have the books both of the Old and New Testament. Christians of all sects and names profess to believe, that there is only one God. This doctrine makes the first article in the creed of all who admit the inspiration of the Bible, and embrace the christian theology. And their faith is confirmed by the consideration, that the exercise of their rational powers, and the knowledge of events in the physical creation, conduct to the same conclusion. That there can be but one First cause, is the voice alike of nature, of reason, and of revelation.
Whence is it, then, that there are advocates, zealous and intolerant advocates, for a creed, which militates with this most plain and evident truth, essential both to true religion and true philosophy? What is the purport of this creed, and how is it supported?
The time has been, when the mysteriousness of a doctrine was rather urged in its favour, than as an objection. But at the present period, men of inquisitive minds and philosophical research will not avail themselves of such a subterfuge. Neither the Athanasian or Nicene creed is now received, merely because it is mysterious and apparently contradictory. But resort is had to reason and scripture for proof of the doctrine. The learned Trinitarians of modern times refer to certain passages of scripture, and advance their 'strong reasons,' drawn from their interpretation of those passages, with a view to convince thinking
and intelligent men of the truth of this theological tenet. And yet we venture to assert, that had not the doctrine been handed down from the dark ages of former times, and surrounded with much to awe the ignorant, and give its advocates a character for superior wisdom and sanctity, no man of the present age would dare to advance it, or pretend to support it from either reason or scripture. Were the article, now, for the first time, to be framed and offered to Christians, for their credence, we are satisfied it could find as few believers, as the peculiar and most mysterious doctrines of Swedenborg, or the Romish dogma of transubstantiation. It is chiefly to its antiquity and the venerable names with which it has been associated, that we are to attribute its present reception and popularity. But with learned and intelligent men, this should be no apology.
It is well known to theologians, that the doctrines of christianity became greatly obscured and corrupted in the third, fourth, and fifth centuries; and so continued till the time of the reformation and the revival of letters in the fifteenth century. It is not neccesary here to relate all the causes and occasions of this corruption. It is admitted, that, after the immediate disciples and converts of the first apostles of our Lord, all miracles and inspiration ceased. The writings of Christian apologists and commentators, after this, though some of them learned and pious, exhibit lamentable specimens of false reasoning and visionary opinions. The doctrines of the Platonic school, which admitted a variety of beings superior to man, but inferior to the Great First Cause, were received by christian divines; and, mixed with the declarations of the gospel, formed a system (if system it may be called) of mystery, jargon and absurdity. The Athanasian creed is in full proof of it. And we cannot but express our astonishment and regret, that any one, who has gone much to the holy scriptures for gaining knowledge and regulating his faith, should ever listen with approbation to the absurdities and contradictions of that popular and orthodox formulary.
On this subject, there are even now but comparatively few who allow themselves to think and inquire with freedom. And there is a readiness often discovered to avail of the natural disposition of the ignorant to adopt a creed involving the greatest mysteries. We do not say this by way of reproach to the sincere and pious. It is difficult to deviate from creeds early embraced and long held sacred. Nor would we hastily condemn those who differ from us in our views on this point of faith. There is a mystery respecting the nature and essence of the Deity, which justly inspires with religious awe and baffles our deepest researches. And a doctrine is not to be discarded,