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and prolixity of style, and by a retrospective relation of sentences in a paragraph, at a greater remove from each other than is agreeable to the intellectual habits of ordinary readers. But, while we grant that Mr. Burnside is not always perspicuous, we can assure such readers, that they will find, upon exercising a closer attention, that he is never chargeable with the obscurity which results either from a want of meaning, or from the affectation of depth. Indeed, we may safely atfirm, that he is absolutely free from every kind of pretence or affectation. And as to bis abstruseness, it is an abstruseness of the most soluble kind; being; for the most part, nothing more than a little mannerism in the phraseology, and such as rarely belongs to the thought itself.
• It is my design to prove the reasonableness and importance of true piety, from the principles most generally acknowledged by mankind, and which have usually the strongest influence on the human mind and conduct. I propose to show, that the same maxims which govern men, for the most part, in the affairs of this life, will, on a further application, infallibiy lead them to acknowledge the propriety of that disposition and conduct relative to the life to come, for which I contend." On this account, though the Scriptures are frequently referred to in the course of the work, yet it is more for the purpose of confirming the dictates of reason, than of prescribing to it; and sometimes, merely with a view to ascertain sentiments and facts recorded by certain writers whom all must allow to be very ancient, and whose authority ought at least to have weight with all who admit that they were divinely inspired. I have brought forward scarcely any of the assertions peculiar to that most extraordinary book, without appealing to reason on the subject; and though in some cases the truth of the facts necessarily rests entirely on the authority of the Bible, yet the introduction and application of them will not be considered as a deviation from my plan, when it is recollected, that the arguments for receiving the Scriptures themselves as a divine revelation, are glanced at in the course of this performance. I confess, however, not only freely, but with joy and gratitude to their Glorious Author, that to them I am indebted for the far greater part of those important ideas, which seem to flow entirely from reason.'
« The first four are preliminary; for without the establishment of the positions which they contain, religion could have neither importance nor even existence. In a considerable nnmber of those that follow, my object is to explode the false ideas of piety, which are too prevalent in the world. The next class of them contains a reply to the many plausible excuses that are made for the want of personal religion. Afterwards, directions and encouragements are given to those who are solicitous concerning their eternal welfare. The concluding ones are addressed to the truly pious, according to the various re. lations and circumstances in which they may be placed.” The elevated purity of intention wbich is every where apparent
in these volumes, is well announced in the concluding paragraph of the Introduction.
« Brethren of mankind ! however inferior I feel myself to multitudes of you in a variety of important respects, I am in one respect, at least, your equal—as a fellow-traveller with you to eternity. Since my discourse will only relate to the right road, and to the momentous issue of the journey, I hope I shall not be deemed impertinent, if I sometimes speak to those who are near me, and sometimes call to those at a distance, whether behind or before. When I contemplate the glories of that Being on whom their fates as well as my own depend, as also the glories of his Son, emphatically styled “ the Desire of all nations," as being the grand and only medium of ultimate safety and felicity to man, I feel particularly anxious to forget every circumstance attending my companions in the way, except such as relate to the present design. If the Divine Spirit does but graciously vouchsafe to make me a partaker of that religion which I am recommending to my fellow mortals, to assist me in recommending it, and to render that recommendation effectual with those who may happen to be my readers, I shall then indeed have the greatest reason for joy and thankfulness, as having, under God, accomplished the grand object of my exertions and my prayers.'
Mr. Burnside imperceptibly wins the attention of his reader in treating the most hackneyed topics, by an air of originality, resulting, as it seems to us, from the abstracted simplicity of his own character: in passages where nothing either new or profound can be traced, the reader finds that the whisper of modest wisdom has smitten the ear with the impression of novelty. The Author's tranquil tone seems to charm the hurry of the thoughts ; and his moderated and contemplative air inspires a wish to be counselled by the humble sage, with whom, evidently, are no harsh rebukes; who, if austere in bis habits, is indulgent in his opinions, and who pretends to reveal no other mysteries than those which transpire when the immortal spirit consents to commune with herself. In truth, baving ourselves no personal knowledge of the Author, he has perpetually presented himself to our imagination in the character of the mild hermit, to whose cell the prodigal bends bis steps in the sober hour when conscience prevails against passion. It is, however, sufficiently apparent, that the Author, though probably himself but ligbùy entangled with worldly ties, has long lived among men,-that he is no novice, or purblind contemplatist: be writes for those with whom he has actually conversed; and it is the folly, the perversity, the infatuation which he has seen, and studied, and reproved, that he now seeks to convict and reform.
In the first four Essays, Mr. Burnside seems at home amid the objects which have imparted its most characteristic colouring to his own mind. He aims in these preliminary Essays to introduce, as it were afresh, into his reader's thoughts, the bound
less ideas of a future life. The object of the first Essay is to demand the attention of the inconsiderate reader.
· The idea of never losing life in one respect, and of recovering it in another, the proofs of which we have been collecting and stating, cannot in itself be otherwise than uncommonly pleasing. Who that has once tasted the sweets of life, and experienced its advantages, unless incapable of reflection, can avoid rejoicing, that when he ceases to live in this world, he will exercise the vital functions in another? Annihilation is indeed abhorred by every one who has not reason to dread something worse than the mere loss of being, and who is not reconciled to the loss of life by its preferableness to the endurance of misery. The brute is not made unhappy during life, because it cannot reflect on the loss it will sustain at death: it is reduced to a state of nonexistence without the pain of foreseeing it. But we know the value of the good we enjoy, and having the loss of it in prospect also, should, in ordinary circumstances, certainly feel our present enjoyments imbittered, without the consolatory fact we have been prov, ing-provided we had nothing to apprehend in the life to come that was worse than nonexistence itself. It is delightful to think, that death is not the termination, but the introduction to a different state of being—where, with powers differently modified, the stranger will find himself in a different world, amidst objects and incidents entirely different. The prospect of a situation so completely novel may well be supposed to wind up human curiosity to the highest pitch-es-. pecially if there is a hope that the future condition will not only not be worse than the present, but that it will be greatly improved, and that not only successive years, but successive ages, will never bring any one, after his arrival, nearer to death a second time, than he was when he first entered that wonderful state, much less to an utter extinction of being.'
• The points to which our attention should be directed are evidently these: Is there evil as well as good in the world to come! If any, of what kind? To what extent? And whether, if any one of the human race, on his arrival, should have the tremendous misfortune to endure it, he stands any chance of ever being delivered from it ? What is the nature, as well as the extent and duration, of the good that exists there? Is it such as will be agreeable to the stranger? Should it strike him as disagreeable to his present taste, and there be no choice allowed him of any other, are there or are there not any means by which his taste may be rendered conformable? Should he be so unhappy as to be at variance with the government there, and should he be exposed, on his coming thither, to imprisonment and to torture, is there any expedient by which that difference may be compromised, before he leaves the present world?
• This is not the place for answering the inquiries just enumerated. Of their infinite moment, there can be no doubt, and as little, I should think, of the importance of an early, serious, and patient investigation, till the mind is able to come to a satisfactory conclusion. They include propositions, the truth or falsehood of which cannot be dis.
cerned by intuition. As they are not beyond the capacity of the most ignorant and illiterate to examine, so neither are they so obvious as not to claim the most diligent study of the greatest scholar, and the most profound philosopher. They are of equal consequence to both sexes, and to all people, whatever may be their age, their birth, quality, or circumstances, and in whatsoever part of the world they may happen to live. In sorming his decision, no one can derive security from the number and quality of his associates, nor suffer detriment from the number and quality of his opponents. This is a business in which no relation, however near, no friend, however dear, can interfere with effect. The minister of religion cannot answer for his congregation, nor the magistrate, the legislature, or the sovereign himself, for the people. The children of men often appear to die singly; but even should they enter the other world in groups, their cases will be considered separately. “ Every one of us shall give account of himself unto God."
• What a mean and wretched figure does he make in the view of his own mind, who, to avoid alarm and difficulty, will not look his situation in the face! How precarious must be his peace-how tremendous must be his end! Is it thus, then, that the prospect of renew ed, of endless being, in itself the noblest basis of human hope and joy, becomes to mortals the principal cause of gloom, of terror, and distress? Who can but lament the strong, the extensive prevalence of folly and wickedness? Happily it is not universal. There are not a few of different ages, countries, and denominations, who with reason look forward to the future life as the chief good, and to whom it is the great purifier and gladner of the present. Vol. I. pp. 11-19.
We are not in the present case attempting a regular analysis, but shall merely present such detached passages as seem the most fairly characteristic of the Author's manner.
• I proceed to a particular on the sublime topic under discussion, the (nature of the heavenly state,) in which no one can feel interested, except a person of real piety, but which every one of this description must view as the principal ingredient in celestial felicity. According to the Scriptures, the Deity, in the heavenly world, is not, as here, beheld through the circuitous, obscure, and unsatisfactory medium of reason and faith, but by something analogous to what we call “ sight,” and “ face to face.” What an addition must thence arise to the pleasure and improvement afforded by devotion! The spirit of religion, too, is now no longer counteracted by inferior or criminal affections, so as to mar enjoyment, if not to produce shame and fear in divine worship. The apprehensions, griefs, and desires, which agitated the mind in this world, having given way to perfect security and “fulness of joy," petitions are converted into thanksgivings, and complaints into praises. How can the happy spirit feel otherwise than affected in the strongest manner by admiration, gratitude, and joy, when he possesses a bright and enlarged view of what he once had only a glimpse-the divine glory! when the afflictive dispensations of Provi. dence on earth are accounted for to his satisfaction, and when all be
experiences within, and all he observes around him, so loudly proclaim the riches of divine greatness and goodness!
• I must not omit the peculiar gratification which the true believer will feel in actually beholding that most wonderful Philanthropist, who, unmindful of his own supreme dignity and felicity, submitted to degradation, labour, and suffering inconceivable, for the noblest and most benevolent of purposes—to whom myriads, once involved in depravity and guilt, in wretchedness and danger, owe their final salvation and happiness to whom the believer himself, in a word, is indebted for his advancement from the most deplorable circumstances to a state infinitely above the highest pinnacle of earthly felicity! That Benefactor_" the Chief of ten thousand," whose name infused spirit into his devotional exercises here below-which animated every religious affection of his soul--which tuned his voice and heart to praise in every hymn-which was the burden of his religious medi. tations and conversation--which fired his zeal for duty, and supported his spirits under suffering-which was his only hope in death-that Jesus he now sees, and handles, and converses with! The apostle Paul, who had a desire to depart and to be with Christ,” finds his wish gratified; and the strangers scattered abroad, who, “ though they never saw him, yet loved him," notwithstanding they were “in heaviness through manifold temptations," in heaven possess a much stronger and more complete cause for “ rejoicing with joy unspeakable, and full of glory."' pp. 31, 82.
In treating subjects upon which the resources of language have been long exhausted, Mr. Burnside gives us none of the well-turned wordiness of vapid sermonizing: neither, we must allow, does he bear us away by the power of a sublime eloquence. But there is something in the primitive simplicity of bis manner, that strongly conveys the idea of a childlike πληροφορία. His meditations, in becoming minutely familiar with “ things to “come,” would seem never to have been checked by the doubting suggestions of the foolish wisdom of this world. We might name much more powerful and elevated passages on the same subject, which have produced upon our minds (we hardly know why) a less realizing impression than some parts of these introductory Essays.
• But at length the body comes to take its share in the felicity enjoyed by the soul to which it was formerly united. On the return of the material part in the saint's constitution to life, the objects he first sees are very different indeed from those which he last beheld. The transition is a great one, from a bed of sickness and death, in an apartment resorted to by anxious and sorrowing relations, to a spot covered on all sides by numberless human beings, where he finds himself in full possession of his powers. He will, however, probably have no immediate opportunity of contemplating the change either in himself or the objects around him on earth, on account of certain appearances in the sky, which deservedly engage the whole of his attention. Yet, sur. prising as it must be to see the “ Son of man coming in the clouds with