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Mr. Burnside's charity “ hopeth all things.” With respectto the religious condition of different classes of mankind, living and dying under disadvantageous circumstances, he assumes the most favourable hypothesis that is admissible. Some readers, perhaps, will feel their systematic charity offended by his expansive suppositions ; but we are not disposed to quarrel with him on the subject. Topics of this sort are discussed in the twenty-first Essay, 'on the peculiar Disadvantages under which some labour with regard to Piety! In stating in this Essay and elsewhere, the necessity of missionary labours,which he does on several occasions very explicitly,--he uses a phraseology with which we are not entirely satisfied; though perhaps we do his real intentions an injustice by the insinuation. But,-if we might use the term without offence to any of our friends,ếwe have been ready to suspect here and there, a grain or two of Quakerism on this subject. Now though Quakerism is most admirable and helpful in almshouses, and workhouses, and prisons, it surely is not the systein we want when the extension of the Christian faith is in question. The passages liable to the above observation occur in pages 81, 380, and 419, of Vol. I. We shall be pleased to think that the reader, on referring to those pages, shall be of opinion that our remark is entirely destitute of foundation.
Mr. Burnside gives an air of originality to trains of thought which the reader may think familiar to his mind. The following passages occur in the Essay on the Influence of Fashion in
Religion.' . I have sometimes represented to myself the probable effect on the irreligious, were the bulk of mankind truly pious. The profane and immoral would be obliged, perhaps, to take refuge in solitary places, and to conceal themselves under the darkness of the night; and as to an offender against human laws, I suppose that scarcely such a one would be found. With respect to the nominally religious, and those among the moral who pay no attention to religious institutions, they would be extremely embarrassed. They would soon betray themselves, by their unwillingness to associate with the people of God, or by their manifest uneasiness when any pious topic of discourse, or object of pursuit, was proposed for discussion; and when thus known, they would every where be beheld with an eye of pity, mingled with scorn, indignation, and abhorrence. They would be continually exposed to remonstrances and exhortations, to warnings and entreaties. They would be in a state of constant reproof and alarm, from the speeches and actions of almost all around them; and they would find few to keep them in countenance, or to support their spirits, by the observation of maxims and a kind of conduct similar to their own : conscience, however dull and inclined to silence it might be, would frequently receive a new stimulus, and be roused into action.' p. 501.
Vol. XIV. N.S. 3 B
Unhappily, the state of real piety in the world, is by no means tbat which is here supposed.
• The immense number of the irreligious, is an idea which weighs much with each individual of that description, relative to the confirmation and increase of his “ enmity against God.” He perhaps finds them in his own family, the members of which he sees, and with whom he converses every day-the sharers of his hopes and fears, his joys and sorrows; with whom he takes sweet counsel in his perplexities ; to whom he is united by the strongest ties of relationship, friendship, and common interest. To whichsoever side of his habitation he turns, or whomsoever of his neighbours he meets, he sees and hears, in general, nothing that indicates the least sign of piety, if it does not manifest entirely the reverse. His connexions in business, his friends whom he visits and by whom he is visited, his acquaintance whom he speaks to or has affairs to transact with occasionally, are almost all perhaps of the same irreligious character. The individuals and societies, whether in private or public life, whether belonging to his own nation or to foreign countries, known to him personally, by report, or through the medium of the daily papers, seldom discover attachment to religion; so far from it, that their language and actions are often absolutely incompatible with it.'
• An aversion to piety so extensively prevalent, and of such a long standing among mankind, cannot but operate most powerfully upon the mind of a person, that is of itself disinclined to the subject. The prodigious number of the irreligious, separate from every other consideration, must strike him most forcibly. Be their endowments, characters among themselves, or stations, ever so disadvantageous, he will be glad of their concurrence in the present instance. He will shew no more delicacy in the choice of his associates and adherents for maintaining the cause of irreligion, than the Roman conspirator of old, who, notwithstanding his high dignity as senator, in attempting to effect the ruin of his country, was willing to receive the assistance of the meanest and most infamous slaves. In like manner, the man who never made regeneration or conversion his concern, however proud he may be of his fortune, his rank, or his office, if he happens to possess any of these advantages, and however he may disdain all connexion with his inferiors in this respect, feels not a little encouraged in his opposition to the faith and obedience of Christ, or to the renovation of his heart and life, by thinking of the general character of mankind, both in ancient and modern times, with regard to the cultivation and improvement of religious principle. He is pleased with the totality of the sum, forgetful not only of the very large proportion there is in it of the poor and obscure, but also what a multitude it contains of ignorant, worthless, and abandoned characters. Much less, it may be supposed, will an irreligious man, who has no pretensions to deference or consequence among those around him, object to the want of such claims in others, who, like himself, are strangers to piety, where it is simply his object to estimate the strength of his cause.' pp. 502-4.
In the latter part of this Essay, reflections, obvious as to their matter, are very well and forcibly presented.
• But the most important consideration to be urged against the improper influence of fashion on weak and irreligious minds, still remains to be mentioned. The truly pious man is by no means so much in the minority, as appears at first view. Besides his correspondence in spirit and character with numbers of “faithful brethren in Christ,” of various ranks, stations, and denominations, in his own country, and with all who “ fear God and work righteousness" in every age and country: in order to form a just idea of his associates, the inhabitants of the eternal world to which he belongs must be taken into the account : “ the general assembly and church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven; the spirits of just men made perfect; the hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel; the multitude that no man can number, collected from all nations, kindreds, and tongues; an innumerable company of angels ; Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and God the Judge of all.” Though this infinitely grand association be invisible, yet it is real; and as its existence cannot be affected by the dimness or short-sightedness of mortal vision, so neither ought the impression which it is so eminently calculated to make upon the mind, to be weakened by that circumstance. To the eye of faith, which appeals to reason for its support, invisible objects seem no less substantial, than the horses and chariots of fire that appeared to Elisha's servant to cover the mountains round about his master, whom, before his eyes were opened, he thought to be alone, and without defence, in the midst of numerous and powerful enemies. Let then the real Christian, when he thinks that he stands opposed singly to an innumerable host of the irreligious and of nominal believers, reflect on the number and splendour of bis unseen approvers and confederates. He will perceive them to be fully a match for his earthly adversaries. Their multitude will fill as wide a space, and present as magnificent a spectacle, as his opponents. The bright exhibition of their possessions and honours, will glare upon the sight full as much as earthly riches. Their imposing attitude, invested as they are with authority and dominion, is fully capable of vieing with that of the other. Were the celestial spirits above, among whom true piety is the reigning mode, once to make their appearance, the fashionable votaries of irreligion, when showing themselves to the greatest advantage, as they are actually found in an illustrious and crowded assembly, or even as they exist in the glowing anticipations and wishes of a youthful imagination, would soon-very soon-share the fate of the twinkling stars, when the sun rises above the horizon.'
• The irreligious admirer of the gay world cannot but know, that the multitude, to which these fashionable Christians in name only belong, their pomp and glitter, their applauses and censures, the good and evil effecis of their power, cease to retain the command of his senses in the still and solitary hours of night, when he lies awake upon his bed, enveloped in the shades of darkness; nor would they
retain their hold on his imagination, if he did not expect to see the scene renewed the day following. The night will shortly come, however, to be succeeded by a morning, when, instead of that scene which will then have passed away into obscurity, insignificance, and even something far worse, he will witness, to his utter confusion and terror, the triumphant situation of the once forlorn and afflicted friend to real piety-never, never, to be banished from his observation.' Vol. I. pp. 51346.
We do not feel obliged to enter upon the endless question relative to 'lawful amusements.' But we must just remark, in passing the twenty. eighth Essay, on the Compatibleness of • Piety with Pleasure,' that, though the purest intentions are very apparent in every sentence, we fear the indistinct and tremulous tone of Mr. Burnside's dehortations will produce little impression upon the lovers of pleasure.' "The monitor who betrays a fear that the thread of bis influence will snap, instead of being able to restrain bis wanton charge, will only be dragged ignominiously at his heels. There is in this Essay, and perhaps in some other parts of the work before us, something of that sort of indistinctness and timidity to which the term trimming is commonly applied. It is indicated, for instance, in the beginning of the Essay, by the very odd periphrasis which occurs in the middle of the following paragrapb.
* If I mention the relaxing the features occasionally into a smile or a laugh; the admission of wit and humour into conversation; reading for entertainment as well as for instruction ; exchange of friendly visits; dividing the time between town and country; the partaking sometimes of delicacies and luxuries; together with certain sorts of corporeal and mental amusements, more easily conceived than enumerated; I suppose I shall notice some of the particulars at least usually comprehended in the word pleasure. Let me not, however, forget to include in it elegance, if not splendour, in houses and furniture, in dress and equipage; though they relate chiefly to the higher classes. With respect to these modes of enjoyment, I may be bold to say, that religion by no means interdicts them altogether; nor indeed am I aware, that she in general prescribes any other limits to them, than what would be assigned by considerations of safety, interest, decorum, and moral obligation, without religion. pp. 560, 561.
Again : the apparent implication conveyed in the ensuing sentences, seems to us, to say the least, of very doubtful propriety. The lovers of frivolity are not always virtuous
characters; but if they were, still many of them live without " that religion which is so variously and emphatically described • in the New Testament, and so strikingly manifested in the
sentiments and spirit, in the language and the practice, of the • apostles and their followers.' (p. 580.) We would not be captious upon a word; but, in truth, we think this is either very
lax charity, or very incautious writing. By these virtuous * lovers of frivolity,' we can suppose the Author intends persons not grossly immoral; though we think, even in that sense, it is an unadvised association of terms. But we can affix no meaning whatever, compatible with the Author's avowed sentiments, to the insinuation, that there may be, and are, some
lovers of frivolity,' who are at the same time Christians, in the Apostolic sense of the word.
In the Essays of the first volume, the Author seems to address himself to the irreligious, labouring to attract their attention towards the great objects of futurity; to meet and remove the difficulties and objections most commonly urged by such persons in excuse for their neglect of religion as a personal concern; to recommend the ways of piety as ways pleasantvess ;--in
a word, to offer a diffuse apology for personal religion. The Essays of the second volume are adapted to meet the difficulties, and varied feelings and circumstances of those who have actually commenced the Christian course.
We must, with few comments, present some specimens from this latter portion of the work ; which perhaps, on account of the subjects of which it treats, may be to ihe inajority of Mr. Buroside's readers, rather the more interesting of the two.
The forty-fourth Essay, 'on Presumption in Religion,' contains much just thinking and well-pointed animadversion.
• There is nothing wonderful in the presumption with which piety is treated by the irreligious. Strangers to its nature, importance, and the difficulties attending it, they presume that it may
be attained at any time, or that no great evil will arise, if it be never attained; and those of them who cannot go to the length of deferring it, much less of neglecting it altogether, yet presume that the form is the substance, especially when it is accompanied by a grave exterior : they therefore think that "their hearts are right in the sight of God," when they are all the while “ in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity." However dangerous and lamentable these instances of temerity are, they are easily supposable. What appears extraordinary is, that any whose minds seem better informed on this grand, solemn, and difficult subject, should manifest, in its treatment, the most unbecoming inconsideration. They behave in the house of God, if not with rudeness, yet with as little ceremony as if they were in their own houses, at a time when neither the persons present, nor the occasion, required any particular self-recollection. They quote the Scriptures with as much levity, as they would a profane author who had discussed some trivial or ludicrous subject. They entertain no fears respecting the genuineness of their piety; and of course none relative to their "holding fast the beginning of their confidence, and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." The obstacles to be surmounted in the discharge of painful duties, or in rejecting " the pleasures of sin,” as also their manifold failures, with the unhappy