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various Congregations” to whom it has been preached, have joined in requesting its publication. Mr. Green examines the supposed Scripture evidence in behalf of Death Punishment, and totally demolishes it, showing it to bear an altogether different signification. The instance he adduces in his own personal observation of the debasing consequences of the exhibitions designed by legislative wisdom to promote love of morality and respect for human life, is striking and convincing.
“A few years since, I was within a few miles of, and approaching, an assize town. As I drew nearer, I the more remarked the number of people I met, on foot, in light carts especially, and by various modes of conveyance. It being before noon, and from their jollity, I supposed they were going to some country, and a neighbouring, fair. They seemed to belong generally to the rural districts—though there were many, also, who showed that they were from surrounding towns, by their appearance of being mechanics, or dirty from their shops. The rural portion appeared generally to be dressed in their best, and to be going a holidaying. As I approached the suburbs, and especially as I entered its precincts, I supposed there must be a fair in the city I was entering. Yet the stream of the people were leaving, and preparing to depart. The streets were comparatively full; and the appearance was, that there had been some grand, and unusual, merry-making. All was hilarity and bustle. The public houses bore testimony with their numerous and joyous companies. With difficulty, my horse was put in, among other horses in the stable, where I stayed for his refreshment; and, for myself, had I required accommodation, it might also have been said, there was no room in the inn. The ostler, who seemed touched with the general manifestation which I had observed, and who, I considered, was partly intoxicated, kicked, on taking in my horse, against a man who was lying under the manger, along, before, and at the front feet of the horses. “What,” says the ostler to him, “have you been helping to hang that woman this morning ?” My spell was broken. In the guttural sound of intoxication, he muttered a coarse reply. My heart sickened. Oh! with the sight before me, and the levity of the remark, and the ribald jest, at the tragedy, which, I thus learned, had, that morning, in that city, been performed.”
Religious Meditation: a Discourse by J. Crawford Woods, B.A.
Devonport, W. Wood; Plymouth, J. Faning; London, J. Chap
This is the first published discourse of a young Minister recently settled with the congregation at Devonport. We welcome him to the work of the Ministry, and confidently trust that opening promise will be thoroughly fulfilled. The sermon is appropriately inscribed to Mr. Sylvanus Gibbs, a faithful and zealous labourer in the building up and maintenance of this religious society, the earnest and consistent disseminator of Christian truth, and the practical exemplifier of its holy and sustaining power. The discourse seems to have originated in the efforts made in the neighbourhood of the Preacher, to revive the antiquated formalism of the State Church, peculiar Sisterhoods of Mercy, and monastic seclusion. Whilst pointing out with truthfulness the advantages mentally and morally
arising from Religious Meditation, converse with the glorious and beautiful works of the Creator, the sanctity of silence, he rightly discriminates between occasional retirement from the bustle and throng of the world, to nerve the mind for action by selfscrutiny and communion with God, and the display, as marks of self-sacrifice, “ of the trumpet of the Pharisee, the cowl of the Monk, or the crucifix of the Nun.” Truly does he affirm, “ There is ample opportunity for all of us, both to meditate religiously, and to act charitably, in the present constitution of Society. Men and women may be brothers and sisters of mercy, without wearing badges or assuming titles."
There is much vigour, freshness, and unction in this discourse, betokening Christian earnestness and zeal. We could have wished the omission of such words as “dynamics,"
idiosyncrasy,” and the like, thinking the employment of such terms quite out of place in a Christian pulpit, and that plain words to plain men best befit the preaching of glad tidings.
Our Older Sunday Scholars ; means suggested for their continued Improvement and Usefulness. A discourse delivered before the Manchester District Sunday School Association. By Franklin Howorth. London, G. Richmond, 53 Skinner Street; Manchester, J. T. Parkes ; Johnson, Rawson and Co.
This is an admirable Discourse. It is founded on the cxix, Psalm. 9. It should be read by every Sunday School teacher; it should be read by all who wish the instruction of the rising generation. Of the importance and value of the Sunday School, too much cannot be said. It has proved a blessed instrumentality. It has prevented evil, it has conferred good. It has blessed individuals; it has blessed families; it has blessed society. It has been as the battering-ram on the walls of ignorance, the Pioneer of civilisation, the harbinger of religious truth and moral action. That it has not effected all the good it might have accomplished, has been owing partly to circumstances it could not controul
, which craved the time for mere elementary instruction which
should have been devoted to higher aims; partly to the inefficiency and irregularity of teachers, their not sufficiently magnifying their office, properly appreciating its worth and work, and thoroughly preparing for its discharge; and partly by the discontinuance of attendance by the Scholars, just at the years when they could most have profited by the instruction to be imparted. To remedy these evils, so far as Older Scholars are concerned, is the object of Mr Howorth's discourse. He suggests, 1. the “ formation of adult evening classes for their special benefit,” in order to give them “ interest in intellectual and religious improvement, at the age when they usually leave the Sunday School;" 2. Religious improvement classes or Prayer meetings;” 3. “the formation, in every Sunday School, of Abstinence Societies; 4. “ the furnishing them all with opportunities of usefulness to others.” A quotation under each head will illustrate the importance of these suggestions.
“Let us glance for a moment at the reasons for special efforts in behalf of our older scholars. Theirs is perhaps the most momentous period of life. They are beginning to throw off a regard to mere prescription and authority, and to inquire into the reasons of things. They desire to know why they should observe the rules imposed upon them in their childhood. They have, as yet, no principles founded upon personal conviction. Their religious views have been received mainly on the authority of parents and teachers. Questionings, doubts, difficulties, present themselves ; and in the solution of these their minds are open to the arguments of sophistry as well as of truth; and they are exposed to the attacks of ridicule, which it requires much moral courage to withstand. There
also at their age an agreeable excitement in change, and a charm in novelty. The passions and the animal propensities assume an alarming power, and threaten the overthrow of every check to their impetuous and debasing sway. On the other hand, the principles of self-controul and self-denial have scarcely been awakened into active vigour, or even into life. In the mean time temptations beset them on every hand, by day and by night, offering the allurements of gratification to stimulate desire, and the sanctions of example to lull the conscience. Companionships and friendships with those of their own age are now formed, and these associations often decide the character for life; and the fear is, that those persons who promise them most licence, and who are the most dangerous will be the most successful in obtaining their confidence and sympathy. Now, can we calmly consent to give up our young friends from the Sunday School, under such circumstances of peril? Shall we, without an effort, allow them to withdraw from its salutary influences to scenes and connections that will almost inevitably prove their ruin? They cannot, it is true, be retained among the ordinary classes of the school. But must we, on this acount, lose them altogether? By no means. Special classes must be formed for them with the accommodation of a separate room, where instruction exactly suited to their wants, their dan
gers, and their aspirations may be given them. Here may their doubts and difficulties on many questions in morals, metaphysics, and theology, receive a patient, indulgent hearing, and an intelligent examination, resulting either in the delight of new and enlarged views which clear the darkness away, or in the conviction of the wisdom of humble and reverential trust.”
“Yes, it is religion-true, heart-felt, practical religion—that is at once the elevation and the guardian of our being. This is the blessed angel that is to preserve our youth, to sustain our advancing years, and to conduct us to heaven. For man's stability and highest good I have no confidence in any thing else, neither
in mere secular instruction, nor in the pursuit of knowledge, nor in the cultivation of taste, por in the study of art, nor in the worship of genius, nor in any of what may be usually regarded as the refining inflpences of the intellect and of the imagination. Religion is something more searching, more controuling, more purifying, more elevating than all. And, therefore, would we, with
special emphasis, recommend the formation of classes in connection with our Sunday Schools for the express and direct purpose, by the blessing of God, of awakening and establishing religion in the heart.”
“We have remarked, that, generally speaking, at present our Sunday scholars, after the age of seventeen or eighteen, leave our schools and places of worship altogether. There appears to be suddenly a mournful backsliding. Where are they? Where on the Lord's Day are those who have been from week to week the objects of our instruction and solicitude, for whom in public and in our secret retirement we have offered up before the Father of Mercies, sincere, heartfelt prayers? We look into the school. They are not there. We look into the sanctuary. They are not there. We look into their homes. They are not there. Where are they? Go on the Lord's Day evening to the public-house, the spirit-vault, the beershop, the music-saloon, and
there you will find them with the newspaper for their bible, the landlord for their minister, and strong drink for their God. They have left the Sunday School, and they have entered another school : the school of vice; and the heavenly instructions of the former are awfully defaced by the sensuality and depravity of the latter. Sad, humiliating, heart-rending, are the results. Some, indeed, may, through the agony of remorse, be brought back into the right way; but many, many alas ! are ruined for ever. They become the slaves of appetite, a bondage to themselves, a burthen to their friends, and a curse to the world.”
“Every Sunday School, like every Christian Church, should be a contre of light and goodness, a fountain whence streams of knowledge and love should flow through the surrounding district. Every individual possesses his own peculiar talent, and a place ought to be found for the exercise of that talent, whether it be of instruction in a particular department of knowledge, or of effort in a particular field of benevolence or religion. Some will be fitted to teach in science or in literature on a week evening; some to direct an essay and disscussion class ; some to conduct religious, and others temperance meetings; and many may be useful in taking a district for the distribution of tracts. For the more full and efficient working of the various plans, committees might be formed who should mark out the fields of labour, and agree upon the part which each individual
should undertake, keeping in view thatif possible a post shall be found for every individual. Thousands, I believe, drop away from our Sunday Schools every year purely from feeling that there is no place for them. There probably appears to them a sufficient supply of teachers already, and no other office presents itself. The arrangements now proposed, however, present them with varied spheres of labour. And it is not, surely, too much to expect that they will be disposed to enter some department of labour suited to their capacity and taste. Thus whilst in one portion of their time they are (as in the adult class) freely receiving, in another portion they will be freely communicating good. In the act of blessing others we bless ourselves.”
SEPTEMBER 1, 1849.
BIRMINGHAM UNITARIAN TEACHERS'TRACT SOCIETY.—The thirtieth anniversary meeting of the above named very useful society, was held in the Lecture Room of the New Meeting, Birmingham, on Monday evening, July 30th. The attendance was highly respectable, though not so numerous as could be desired, the proceedings were very interesting, and of the most gratifying kind. The Rev. Edward Bristow, an old and zealous member of the society, was called to the chair, and the proceedings were commenced by the Report of the Committee being read by the Secretary, a copy of which is presented to our readers. Resolutions in consonance with the business of the meeting, were subsequently passed, and ably supported by Revds. S. Bache, and J. Cranbrook, Messrs. Figures, Barker, Redfern, Colman, and J. Lloyd, and some admirable observations were made by these gentlemen, on the necessity of adhering to principle, of increased zeal in the diffusion of Gospel truth, and the desirability that every means should be adopted to promote spirituality, a devotional temper, and a truly Christian deportment, so that our conduct may reflect no discredit on our profession. The Rev. Hugh Hutton, Mr. John Green, and the Rev. Thomas Bow.. ring were re-elected to the respective offices of President, Treasurer, and Secretary; and thirteen gentlemen were associated with them as a Committee to manage the affairs of the Society. At the conclusion of the business meeting, an Address, according to custom, was delivered. This year the task devolved on the respected Chairman of the meeting, who proceeded to speak in a very animated manner on the fulfilment of our Lord's prophecies respecting the destruction of Jerusalem, and the irrefragable arguments to be deduced from the subject in favour of the Divinity of Christ's Mission, and the overruling Providence of Almighty God. Thanks, by acclamation, were awarded to the rev. gentlemen for his valuable and